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It’s not often I claim I’ve read a book that has changed my life. But this one did. And I thank @ontheleftcoast for telling me about it. Although I have studied the Holocaust over the years, I had never read a story about life in the shtetl, a small town with primarily Jewish residents in Eastern Europe.
This book, There Once was a World, was written by Yaffa Eliach, whose parents were Moshe and Zipporah Sonenson. This family, prosperous in Eishyshok terms, was also a pillar of the community, generous, compassionate, learned, and devoted to Judaism. The book also provided stories of individuals and families, and descriptions of Jewish life, from Torah study to the requirements of the faith.
The reason I was moved so deeply by the book was that, unlike many stories I have read about the Holocaust, with all its tragedies, human depravity, and horror, I had never read so many stories of individuals in one community: people with names, personalities, duties, and devotion to the Torah. Their lives, unlike the Jews in other urban cities in Europe, were difficult and demanding.