Book Review: The Tale of a Niggun by Elie Wiesel (Author) and Mark Podwal (Illustrator)

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***

If you’ve not yet read any of Elie Wiesel’s work, you’re doing yourself a great disservice. The Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate was a self-appointed chronicler of memory who made it his life’s work to never let the world forget the crimes of the Nazi regime and their supporters.

The Tale of a Niggun is based on factual events and tells the story of a rabbi who is given a dire ultimatum: either choose ten Jews from his community to be hanged on Purim to avenge the sons of Haman or else they will all perish. How does one begin to make such a decision? How does one retain their humanity in the face of such unspeakable violence?

The rabbi spends the night searching for guidance, for answers, and for clarity. In the end, he realizes he cannot condemn to death any of his people. Knowing their fate, everyone in the community begins singing a niggun—a song—that remains unbroken, that continues for all eternity, as long as human beings inhabit the earth. What the Nazis (the “enemy” in the book is unnamed but we can surmise that the amorphous “enemy” is meant to represent the Nazis) failed to realize is that you can take people’s lives, but you can’t take their spirit; you can extinguish their breath, but you can’t extinguish their memory.

The Tale of a Niggun is now available to purchase wherever books are sold.

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