Jun 11, 2017

Book Review: The 28th of Iyar

NOTE: I was not paid to review this book. It is an unbiased and objective review. If you have a book with Jewish or Israel related content and would like me to write a review, contact me for details of where to send me a review copy of the book.

Book Review: The 28th of Iyar, by Rabbi Emanuel Feldman
 

I actually received this book, The 28th of Iyar, by Rabbi Emanuel Feldman, on Yom Yerushalayim, the 28th of Iyar, while in America (I was there for a relative's wedding). I always enjoy Rabbi Feldman's writings, and I was excited to receive this book for review.

I had not been aware of it, but this is a reprint, with minor edits, of a book Rabbi Feldman had previously published. So, Rabbi Feldman is not writing about the Six Day War 50 years after it happened, but he had written about it back then, and these are his fresh memories, as recorded in his diary, and not 50 year old memories, making the book even more intriguing.

The Feldman family had spent the year of 1967 in Israel on Sabbatical, with Rabbi Emanuel teaching at Bar Ilan University, and thus he had the ability to experience the war firsthand, and record his thoughts and emotions into his diary. The Feldmans resisted the urge, and pressure, to leave in the days preceding the war and the perspective he gives insight into is that of people who have thrown their lot in with the nation, and not one of outsiders looking in.

What is interesting is how the book starts well before the war. The war was not "zebang" and that is it, as the name of the war might imply. There was a "long" lead up to the war in which Israeli society felt the imminence and pressure of a likely coming war, well before it actually happened.

Personally, I particularly enjoy and appreciate firsthand memoirs of historic events, so this book, The 28th of Iyar, really spoke to me. And, while this book is not a military analysis of the war, and there are many of those, it does shed light how Israeli society, or at least the segment the Feldmans were exposed to, dealt and survived in those trying times.

Rabbi Feldman relates anecdotes such as how he helped drive the postman around so he could help deliver the mail at a time when everyone was being called up for reserve duty for the war and the postal services were short on manpower. Rabbi Feldman also sheds light on Israeli society itself and what it was like at the time, such as the bureaucracy and the bureaucrats within it - such as how he went to the manager of the post office to volunteer his services and had to deal with this bureaucrat. Rabbi Feldman also sheds light on the emotions of the time - the fear, the responsibility, the commitment of the Israeli people. There are even a couple of anecdotes about his brother, later to become a famous rosh yeshiva. Particularly touching was an anecdote related about how during the war he was able to join a group of foreign correspondents on a tour of the recaptured sites and in Bethlehem he bumped into one of his students from his classes at Bar Ilan and the brief exchange between them.

As the book is entitled "The 28th of Iyar", the book concludes with the recapture of Jerusalem. Sadly Rabbi Feldman does not continue sharing his memoirs of the rest of the war and even of the aftermath of the war with the days following. I think his diaries from those days would be just as interesting and insightful.

The 28th of Iyar is a book that gives a personal experience of someone in Israeli society during the war. As important as the books on the battles and the miracles of the war are, a book like this, describing the emotions of people living in an Israeli city with all that going on around is just as important and enlightening.



You can buy The 28th of Iyar on Feldheim

You can buy The 28th of Iyar on Amazon.com

NOTE: I was not paid to review this book. It is an unbiased and objective review. If you have a book with Jewish or Israel related content and would like me to write a review, contact me for details of where to send me a review copy of the book.


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