Rabbi Joseph Polak, author of the acclaimed memoir After the Holocaust the Bells Still Ring, will present a unique and dramatic reading from his memoir.
Wednesday, May 8, 7:00 – 9:00pm, at Congregation Shalom, 87 Richardson Road, North Chelmsford, MA
A book signing to follow.
A toddler survivor of two concentration camps, together with his mother, Rabbi Polak, who is Chief Justice of the Rabbinic Court (Bet Din) of Massachusetts, will read from the chapter ‘Tanya’ (written as a play of three characters) in this memoir, which was a 2015 winner of the National Jewish Book Award, and is now scheduled to be published in Hebrew translation by Yad Vashem.Adjunct Assistant Professor of Health Law, Ethics & Human Rights at Boston University School of Public Health and rabbi emeritus of the Hillel House at Boston University, Rabbi Polak’s memoir is a fascinating recounting of a mother and child who miraculously survive two camps (Westerbork, a transit camp in the Netherlands, and Bergen-Belsen, in Germany). The issue of memory is explored in this extraordinary book, which includes a stirring forward by Elie Wiesel, who was Rabbi Polak’s intimate friend.
In her review of his memoir, the novelist and Holocaust scholar Claudia Moscovici writes, “After the Holocaust the Bells Still Ring is a beautifully written, evocative memoir. In parts, it’s also a theosophical dialogue, staging discussions between the narrator and the Angel of Death on the timeless question of theodicy: how can an omnipotent and omniscient God allow such horrific suffering of children, of innocents? I’m not sure that this question is answered in any definitive way by the text, but readers can find some solace in the evolution of the author’s life. Rabbi Joseph Polak used his good fortune of being one of the few very young child Holocaust survivors to fill the void of nihilism left by the trauma of his past and make something worthwhile and redeeming of his life. Instead of turning his back upon humanity for what so many did to their fellow human beings, he reached out to help and heal others, both as a Rabbi and as a writer.”RSVP