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In the fall of 1965 the I sraeli newspaper Haaretz sent a young journalist named Elie Wiesel to the Soviet Union to report on the lives of Jews trapped behind the Iron Curtain. “I would approach Jews who had never been placed in the Soviet show window by Soviet authorities,” wrote Wiesel. “They alone, in their anonymity, could describe the conditions under which they live; In the fall of 1965 the I sraeli newspaper Haaretz sent a young journalist named Elie Wiesel to the Soviet Union to report on the lives of Jews trapped behind the Iron Curtain. “I would approach Jews who had never been placed in the Soviet show window by Soviet authorities,” wrote Wiesel. “They alone, in their anonymity, could describe the conditions under which they live; they alone could tell whether the reports I had heard were true or false—and whether their children and their grandchildren, despite everything, still wish to remain Jews. From them I would learn what we must do to help . . . or if they want our help at all.”   What he discovered astonished him: Jewish men and women, young and old, in Moscow, Kiev, Leningrad, Vilna, Minsk, and Tbilisi, completely cut off from the outside world, overcoming their fear of the ever-present KGB to ask Wiesel about the lives of Jews in America, in Western Europe, and, most of all, in Israel. They have scant knowledge of Jewish history or current events; they celebrate Jewish holidays at considerable risk and with only the vaguest ideas of what these days commemorate. “Most of them come [to synagogue] not to pray,” Wiesel writes, “but out of a desire to identify with the Jewish people—about whom they know next to nothing.” Wiesel promises to bring the stories of these people to the outside world. And in the home of one dissident, he is given a gift—a Russian-language translation of Night, published illegally by the underground. “‘My God,’ I thought, ‘this man risked arrest and prison just to make my writing available to people here!’ I embraced him with tears in my eyes.” From the Trade Paperback edition.


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In the fall of 1965 the I sraeli newspaper Haaretz sent a young journalist named Elie Wiesel to the Soviet Union to report on the lives of Jews trapped behind the Iron Curtain. “I would approach Jews who had never been placed in the Soviet show window by Soviet authorities,” wrote Wiesel. “They alone, in their anonymity, could describe the conditions under which they live; In the fall of 1965 the I sraeli newspaper Haaretz sent a young journalist named Elie Wiesel to the Soviet Union to report on the lives of Jews trapped behind the Iron Curtain. “I would approach Jews who had never been placed in the Soviet show window by Soviet authorities,” wrote Wiesel. “They alone, in their anonymity, could describe the conditions under which they live; they alone could tell whether the reports I had heard were true or false—and whether their children and their grandchildren, despite everything, still wish to remain Jews. From them I would learn what we must do to help . . . or if they want our help at all.”   What he discovered astonished him: Jewish men and women, young and old, in Moscow, Kiev, Leningrad, Vilna, Minsk, and Tbilisi, completely cut off from the outside world, overcoming their fear of the ever-present KGB to ask Wiesel about the lives of Jews in America, in Western Europe, and, most of all, in Israel. They have scant knowledge of Jewish history or current events; they celebrate Jewish holidays at considerable risk and with only the vaguest ideas of what these days commemorate. “Most of them come [to synagogue] not to pray,” Wiesel writes, “but out of a desire to identify with the Jewish people—about whom they know next to nothing.” Wiesel promises to bring the stories of these people to the outside world. And in the home of one dissident, he is given a gift—a Russian-language translation of Night, published illegally by the underground. “‘My God,’ I thought, ‘this man risked arrest and prison just to make my writing available to people here!’ I embraced him with tears in my eyes.” From the Trade Paperback edition.

30 review for Jews of Silence

  1. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    This book, is a classic testament to the brutal persecution of Jews in the Soviet Union during the dark days of Communist oppression. With both poetic and potent eloquence Wiesel describes the atmosphere of fear and silence, that reigned among Soviet Jewry during the 1960's when this book was written. The attempts to force Jews to abandon their faith and identity, and to cut ties with their brothers and sisters in Israel, by the malignant and brutal Communist tyrants. then there was the daily dis This book, is a classic testament to the brutal persecution of Jews in the Soviet Union during the dark days of Communist oppression. With both poetic and potent eloquence Wiesel describes the atmosphere of fear and silence, that reigned among Soviet Jewry during the 1960's when this book was written. The attempts to force Jews to abandon their faith and identity, and to cut ties with their brothers and sisters in Israel, by the malignant and brutal Communist tyrants. then there was the daily disparagement of the State of Israel and the maligning of Zionism by the State Media (something we see in may countries around the world today). Indeed even though Communist tyranny in Russia has collapsed, the crusade of hate by the Left, formulated by Soviet propagandists has only got more vicious and irascible, in recent years. In South Africa, for example, the ruling ANC and its affiliates, daily comes up with venomous and ruthless attacks on the Jewish State and it's supporters, and are directing a campaign of ethnic hatred against Israel and it's Jews. But the Jews of the Soviet Union refused to forget who they were, or to give up their faith or their love for the State of Israel. Referring to the violent anti-Israel propaganda formulated in the Soviet Union, the author explains : "The purpose of such propaganda is to make Israel seem hateful to the general populace but to the Jews as well, to undermine the esteem in which they hold the Jewish state, and to convince them finally to relinquish an idea which has failed, a vision of redemption which has somehow been made profane..." But this form of psychological warfare, directed against the Jewish dream, and designed to divide Jews of the diaspora from their own people in Israel, failed in Russia. Jews all over the world need to reject it, wherever it raises it's ugly head. As Wiesel describes 'there are Jews who will under no circumstances let themselves be severed from their people'.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    In 1966 Elie Wiesel went to the Soviet Union to find out for himself, albeit an eye witness, as what as happening with the Russian Jews. Nothing had been heard from them (3 million strong), so there was fear that there were no openly practicing Jews left in the Soviet Union. What Wiesel found was the complete opposite. Although the Soviets tried to denounce Judaism (as they did all religions really), the Jewish youth were desperate to understand their Jewishness, even if there were no books or t In 1966 Elie Wiesel went to the Soviet Union to find out for himself, albeit an eye witness, as what as happening with the Russian Jews. Nothing had been heard from them (3 million strong), so there was fear that there were no openly practicing Jews left in the Soviet Union. What Wiesel found was the complete opposite. Although the Soviets tried to denounce Judaism (as they did all religions really), the Jewish youth were desperate to understand their Jewishness, even if there were no books or teachers or Rabbis to teach them.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tonya

    Since my two visits to the Jewish Autonomous Region of Eastern Russia in 2008 I have had laid on my heart questions of why and how Stalin forced the Jewish people there and the way in which their population during my visit to the region had diminished to 2%. In Elie Wiesel's moving description of the fear surrounding a one night celebration of Simchat Torah in Moscow in 1965 and again in 1966 I was brought to tears with the youth coming together in a sea of commonality and the need to congregate Since my two visits to the Jewish Autonomous Region of Eastern Russia in 2008 I have had laid on my heart questions of why and how Stalin forced the Jewish people there and the way in which their population during my visit to the region had diminished to 2%. In Elie Wiesel's moving description of the fear surrounding a one night celebration of Simchat Torah in Moscow in 1965 and again in 1966 I was brought to tears with the youth coming together in a sea of commonality and the need to congregate. A need to worship that in the Western World pales in comparison.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Theresa Malloy

    This is one of Elie Wiesel's reported stories about Judaism in Soviet Russia. Wiesel is taken with dancing in the street, worship and spiritual connection that come about even in an oppressive state. He protects the characters and even includes people he met in passing. It's a very different kind of reporting - blending ethnography and literary journalism. This book changed the course of history and was a good read. This is one of Elie Wiesel's reported stories about Judaism in Soviet Russia. Wiesel is taken with dancing in the street, worship and spiritual connection that come about even in an oppressive state. He protects the characters and even includes people he met in passing. It's a very different kind of reporting - blending ethnography and literary journalism. This book changed the course of history and was a good read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jewish Awakening

    Powerful & provocative. Absolute first stop for anybody interested in the Soviet Jewry movement

  6. 5 out of 5

    Maphead

    Originally published in 1966 and reissued in the mid 80s, Wiesel's account of his travels across the Soviet Union to report on the state of the USSR's Jews made for fascinating reading. Great insight into life in the old USSR. Originally published in 1966 and reissued in the mid 80s, Wiesel's account of his travels across the Soviet Union to report on the state of the USSR's Jews made for fascinating reading. Great insight into life in the old USSR.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Micebyliz

    i don't think i could write a better review than the ones i have read.... i don't think i could write a better review than the ones i have read....

  8. 5 out of 5

    Erika

    more wiesel

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tobias Silber

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gilbert Sebbag

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rosalyn

  12. 5 out of 5

    SMR

  13. 5 out of 5

    Heather

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chavi

  15. 5 out of 5

    Atreish

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sheila Lancit

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ariella

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sharie

  19. 4 out of 5

    Iona Bacht

  20. 5 out of 5

    Grape Caesar

  21. 5 out of 5

    Richard Odier

  22. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gianpaolo Belfi

  24. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

  25. 4 out of 5

    Brittany Farrell

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Lazar

  27. 5 out of 5

    Richard Meyers

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  29. 4 out of 5

    Alana Belliveau

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amber Kahles

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