A Hole In The Heart Of The World: Being Jewish In Eastern Europe

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Spanning nearly a century, from the years preceding the Holocaust to the defeat of the Nazis and subsequent triumph of Communism to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the present day, Jonathan Kaufman tells the stories of five families. A Hole in the Heart of the World is both a descent into the still-dark soul of Eastern Europe and a shockingly optimistic chronicle of a fragile cultural and religious birth. In Berlin a prominent Jewish family clings to its Communist ideals even after the end of the Cold War. A West German cantor - and concentration camp survivor - crosses the Berlin Wall to minister to the Jewish remnant in East Berlin. In Hungary a rabbi turns dissident when Communist-controlled Jewish leaders dismiss him, but he continues to teach Hebrew class in his living room, waging an underground war to preserve and nurture Jewish life. Young citizens of Prague, Warsaw, and Budapest find a renewed faith and pride as they uncover a secret heritage buried in the rubble of war and long condemned by the Communist regime. A Polish Catholic woman bears silent witness to the sufferings of her Jewish neighbors during World War II and later discovers something that overturns everything she ever believed about her past.
From the old to the young and the disenchanted to the enthusiastic, each arrives, finally, at a place of cultural and religious renewal. A Hole in the Heart of the World is a luminous portrait of the Jewish life that persists, though transformed and tenuous, as a vital element of the European community.


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