From Publishers Weekly Although Besser is the rabbi of an unobtrusive shtibel (small synagogue) on Manhattan's Upper West Side, it may be more accurate to define him as a hero who has admirers and devotees all over the world. In this down-to-earth and endearing biography, we first meet Besser, the son of a successful Hasidic businessman in Katowice, Poland, in his deeply religious yet modern European home that was a center of activity and a magnet for notables and guests. When he was 16, however, the boisterous life he had known soured as the Nazis came to power and he and his family fled to Palestine to escape the escalating anti-Semitism. Childhood influences, especially his father's close relationship with the Radomsker rebbe, a Hasidic spiritual leader, and his mother's affinity for theater stayed with him and inspired a lifelong love for Hasidism and Torah as well as for classical music and culture. (This has proved a source of solace to him and amazement to others; he can identify any classical piece on the radio in seconds.) But it is not just the rabbi's vast spiritual and secular knowledge that has won him the respect of presidents, business leaders and even assimilated Jewish children; it is a tangible loyalty and commitment to his fellow human beings. At 81, his energy has not waned; he still gives a daily Talmud class at 6:30 a.m. and embarks on international humanitarian trips. Kozak's inspiring and poignant biography of this legendary man is a wonderful concoction of fascinating details and enlightening stories.Copyright ? Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. Read more From Booklist Besser, a Hasidic rabbi born in Poland, escaped his homeland on the day that World War II began, fleeing to Palestine. After the war, Besser and his family moved to the U.S., where Kozak befriended him in 1988. Kozak chronicles his early years in Europe (Besser's father owned real estate in Berlin) during the rise of Hitler and spread of anti-Semitism. He then focuses on Besser's life in New York, where he opened a commercial real-estate business and became a Talmudic scholar and spiritual leader. In describing the rabbi, Kozak shares the information that his library contains more than 1,000 books. 'Unlike some people who have large personal libraries, the rabbi has read all of his books not once but sometimes twice or more.' Readers of all faiths will absorb. George CohenCopyright ? American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. Read more See all Editorial Reviews
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