Slavic Review

"Leonid Smilovitsky in his deeply researched book searches for evidence of how Jewish religious institutions and rituals reemerge in such a war-torn place. And he finds it. The author depicts the acts of petitioning the state for the right to build synagogues, eat kosher food, tend Jewish cemeteries, and establish prayer quorums heroically, as elements of 'the self-sacrifice and devotion to his faith that characterized the observant Jew in postwar Belarus and his tenacity in continuing to practice his religion whatever the risks and consequences'. While Smilovitsky reads this as a romantic story about the tenacious Belarusian religious Jew, one might also read these efforts as expressions of the desire to find some semblance of dignity in difference in a ruined postwar Belarus. The war years had marked Jews for death, and now Jews came together as Jews in life. In documenting that, Smilovitsky shows how desperately Belarusian Jews wanted to maintain a public Jewish identity."
Reviewed book: 
Leonid Smilovitsky
$85.00 / €75.00 / £67.00
Kindle edition is available through Amazon