Begin biography moving, not convincing

March 12, 2014

Daniel Gordis

Daniel Gordis

In his new biography, “Menachem Begin: The Battle for Israel’s Soul” (New York: Next Book, Schocken), Daniel Gordis writes passionately and poignantly about the life of former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, from childhood in Brisk (now Brest-Litovsk) to the post of prime minister of Israel. Along the way, Begin escaped from the Nazis, was tortured by the Soviets and hunted by the British in Palestine. Because of his role in the pre-state battles among Zionists, he was ignored by the Israeli establishment and suffered multiple electoral defeats before becoming Israel’s first non-Labor prime minister. He made peace with Egypt and attacked the nuclear reactor in Iraq, securing Israel and the West from Iraqi nuclear terror. He was undone by the 1982 War in Lebanon and unraveled by the death of his beloved wife, Aliza. His journey from hunted “terrorist” to Nobel Peace Prize winner is the stuff of legend, and Gordis skillfully capitalizes on it.

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75 Years After Kristallnacht

The Reich Pogroms of November 1938: The End of the Beginning and the Beginning of the End

Presented to the 25th annual conference for the World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust and Descendants (WFJCSHD), Sunday, November 3, 2013

Seventy Five years ago this week, a series of pogroms took place in Germany, which by then included Austria. More than 1000 synagogues were burned, their pews destroyed, sacred Torah scrolls and holy books set aflame. More than 7,000 Jewish businesses were ransacked and 30,000 men age 16-60 were arrested and sent off to newly expanded German concentration camps, most especially, Dachau, Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald. These pogroms were given a fancy name Kristallnacht and it is by that name that they are best known.

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