Scrolls of Testimony

Overview

Scrolls of Testimony is a profoundly moving chronicle of the Holocaust. The author, award-winning Israeli writer Abba Kovner, intended this book as an almost liturgical account of the greatest tragedy to befall the Jewish people, and he wrote it in the Jewish tradition of megillot, or scrolls. Taken together, the pages are reminiscent of the Talmud, with the central text surrounded by notes and excerpts of poetry and prose.

Scrolls of Testimony reads like a suspense novel - ...

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Overview

Scrolls of Testimony is a profoundly moving chronicle of the Holocaust. The author, award-winning Israeli writer Abba Kovner, intended this book as an almost liturgical account of the greatest tragedy to befall the Jewish people, and he wrote it in the Jewish tradition of megillot, or scrolls. Taken together, the pages are reminiscent of the Talmud, with the central text surrounded by notes and excerpts of poetry and prose.

Scrolls of Testimony reads like a suspense novel - powerful, dramatic and compelling - but it is more than that. It is the testimony of the author woven with others’ eyewitness accounts, diary entries, poems, and even last wills and testaments. Many of these were carefully recorded and hidden during the war at great personal risk to the writers, who desperately wanted to record the unfathomable events unfolding around them.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this pastiche of Talmudic and modern genres, Kovner, an award-winning Israeli writer, gives a barely fictionalized account of the interconnected lives of dozens of Diaspora Jews in Europe from the early 1930s through the late 1940s. Kovner died before completing Scrolls, but made clear that it should be used liturgically to assist Jews in their remembrance of the Holocaust. One of his characters, the Italian doctor and rabbi Nathan Cassuto, voices this belief when he tells his cell mates at Auschwitz, "Let each of us place his story in the safe keeping of his companion's memory and, God willing, the last of us fated to survive will be the first to write the scroll of testimony for his generation." Similarly, Gonda Redlich, a Czech member of the pioneer youth movement, asks, "Will it be possible for Jews, in times to come, to sit around the Passover table and tell of the Exodus from Egypt without telling of the exodus from Auschwitz?" Woven together in the scrolls are testimonies not only from death camps but also from prewar Jewish communities, partisans and ghettos. Poems, quotations and commentaries surround the central text, like annotations in the Talmud, and add historical context to the fictional narratives. Kovner uses each device brilliantly to enumerate the sects of Jews and factions of Zionists throughout Europe, as well as the many anti-Semitic pogroms they had already suffered. Many survivors have written about the Shoah, as have many talented writers, but a sacred account offered by one who is both a survivor and a gifted author is a genuine treasure. Illus. by Samuel Bak. (Feb.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Cast in a form that imitates the Talmud (a central text surrounded by marginal commentaries), this compact epic history of the sufferings of Europe's Jews during WWII was left uncompleted at the death of its acclaimed Israeli author (1918-87), and published in Hebrew in 1993. In it Kovner traces the histories of representative characters in Germany, Poland, and Lithuania during the 1930s,and 1940s-in ghettoes and concentration camps, as terrified householders and members of various resistance movements-employing a savagely ironic mock-biblical language that makes this unforgettable fiction one of the most potent criticisms of Hitler's atrocities ever penned. Its steep price (fully understandable, for this was surely an expensive book to produce) will, unfortunately, discourage many potential purchasers. But every public library in the English-speaking world ought to have a copy.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780827607101
  • Publisher: Jewish Publication Society
  • Publication date: 1/1/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 9.40 (w) x 12.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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