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Letters from Mir: A Torah Wold in the Shadow of the Shoah
The Correspondence of Ernest Gugenheim
Edited by Claude-Anne Gugenheim
Associate Editor, Martine Bendavid
Experience first-hand the daily life of a lost world.
Rabbi Ernest Gugenheim was a young French rabbi who traveled to Lithuania in 1938 to study in the premier yeshiva of Mir. Letters from Mir is comprised of the letters Rabbi Gugenheim wrote home describing his experiences, opening a window on a world that was soon to be destroyed. Rabbi Gugenheim’s sharp eye and charming descriptions make this an unforgettable memoir of a poignant moment in history.
Here is how Rabbi Gugenheim describes his initial encounter with the Mir Beit Midrash:
Now, make a small effort of imagination to conjure up for yourself what is to follow: It is ten-thirty in the evening, and we approach the yeshiva. We first hear from outside a chanting sound, or rather it is louder than chanting, but really this is nothing as yet. We enter, and, lo, an immense room, truly immense, and inside there are let us say fifty to a hundred fellows, masmidim, who sing, who shout, who move and shake in a frenzy that delights and frightens you at the same time. In any case, it exceeds anything I had imagined. It should also be added that there was only a small portion of the students present because it was not the time of the lehrnen; what will it be like when everyone is here?