June 24, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

An Encyclopedic Look at Jewish Life Circa WWII

Reviewing: “The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust” Shmuel Spector and Geoffrey Wigoder, Editors. New York University Press. 2001. English. 1824 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0814793565.

In the forward to this three-volume encyclopedia, abridged from a 30-volume in Hebrew, Elie Wiesel wrote how each community had “its own peculiar characteristics, and problems, its roots, its challenges and its ambitions; in a word its raison d’etre. … All were condemned to be extinguished by the long arm of Berlin, the world capital of hatred for everything Jewish. To understand the extent of the unprecedented crimes committed against the Jewish people in Europe is not enough; one must also seek to understand the life of this people before the catastrophe. In this sense, ‘The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life’ … is of inestimable value and answers a real need.”

The encyclopedia is an invaluable resource for it contains information on more than 6,500 communities, explains exact locations of the settlements, traces their development, and reveals small details of everyday life. There are 600 photographs and illustrations; 17 pages of maps; chronology; glossary; extensive bibliography; indexes of communities and personalities.


Dr. Grobman is the resident scholar at the John C. Danforth Society and a member of the Council of Scholars for Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME)

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