Toronto, Ontario

December 11, 1997



by Bernard Baskin


The six stores from the Holocaust in his volume are unusual and engross-ing. Like many others of a similar nature they contain much that is appalling and evil, a degradation of the spirit. But they are also a testimony to human fortitude, hope, courage and inspiration. Out of darkness came forth light and out of despair flowed renewal and redemption.

            An Eye for an Eye concerns Zalman Katz, who never forgot the betrayal of his brothers by two White Russian farmers and a local police chief. After grueling years as a partisan fighter and Russian solder, he discovers and kills the callous betrayers. In a bizarre, surprise ending to the memoir, the brutal police chief, after receiving an unexpected telegram, puts a bullet through his head.

            Before Michael Kutz’s mother is murdered by the Nazis, she implores him to fulfill two promises: never to forget that he is a Jew, and if he survives the war, to visit Palestine. In The Promise, we learn that many years later Kutz becomes a tireless worker in Montreal for Jewish causes. Finally, in 1990, he visits Israel, makes his way to the Western Wall and at 59, celebrates the bar mitzvah that the war had denied him: “When the reading was over, everyone formed a circle and danced. Men from all over the grounds ran to join the celebration. Chassidim, tourists and soldiers held hands, raised their combined voices in spontaneous joy, singing Hebrew songs around a crying Michael Kutz.”

            Dubi Arie, now of North York, emigrated to Israel and fought in the Six Day and Yom Kippur wars. In I Have A Mission, Dubi, spiritually transformed at the triumphant sound of the shofar at the conquered Western Wall, vowed that he would create a monumental work of art that would instill in every Jew the sense of awe and pride that he felt at the moment. His brilliantly painted, seven paneled, work in oils is reproduced in full colour in the book. It illuminates 4,000 years of Jewish history, from Abraham to the creation of Israel. I measures close to 40 feet by 7 feet and is replete with imagery and symbolism. Dubi now lives and works in North York as a successful artist, his mission fulfilled.

            The remaining stories by Moshe Perlmutter, Marjan Rosenberg, Faigie Libman and Batis Malamud – now all Canadians – are, like the others, convincing narratives of survival and victories of the human spirit over iniquity.

            Alvin Abram has fashioned a book to be cherished. It both nourishes and enlarges the spirit.