THE MINYAN

 

I read your book and loved it!  Jerry is now reading it.  We will then pass it on to our children, family & friends.  I think you are a very good story teller, both in spoken and written language.  I enjoy your writing style, especially the dialogue.  I personally feel "The Minyan" should be a best seller.  It is both a mystery novel and an historical one.  I particularly enjoyed your development of characters which made them seem real to me.  There also was the wonderful element of suspense especially in the third section – a bit of "Mission Impossible" to it – quite exciting.  I liked the way all the characters worked together under pressure and danger – even though some had a language barrier.

While I have tried to educate myself concerning the horrors of the Nazi treatment of Jews, your book has been even more of an education for me. When you signed our book, you wrote "Every adventure begins with a step forward."  I would say that this book teaches that we have to go back to the past to understand the present, and then step forward into the future with optimism.  However, we must use caution and awareness to insure that the sins of the past are not repeated.

   `                     Maureen S. O'Brien, PhD, U.S.A.

 

Once I started reading The Minyan, I could not put it down and finished the first section in one sitting. The unraveling of the second part has not only been one of a good storytelling but it has also been one that is educational. Your story is peppered with images of why we must not forget the past, lest we journey down the same road. The climate in which your characters live in, is fraught with challenges at every turn – be it because of gender, race, religion or ignorance. Before I began reading the manuscript, I had the foreboding thought that the black character, Burt would be treated from a stereotypical perspective. Thankfully you did not do that. His character, as all the other characters were interesting and fascinating human beings. The third section of the Minyan took off like a rocket. I loved the fact that Stan was brought into the action abroad. He was instantaneously thrown into a world that required him to operate on a primal level in order to survive. To me, he represented the depths we must ascend in order to protect/rescue those we love, even if our own life is put in peril.

 

There were moments I felt pity for the Nazi characters in your manuscript. This is because they were oblivious to their own loss of humanity and myopic view of the world. The surviving Nazi looking from the shadows of the forest I thought was a poignant statement that evil can never be completely defeated. I thoroughly enjoyed your story and succinct writing style. I may be biased stating this (because I am an actor) but I think your story could be transcribed into a very effective screenplay. After reading your manuscript of the Minyan, I look forward to submerging myself in your published work.

Edgar Fraser

Actor

 

The birth on November 11, 1921 of Aaron Ackerman and the murder of his mother Miriam in the same moment marks the beginning of a chain of consequences carrying several families of the small Jewish community in Lodz, Poland, through unspeakably painful adventures in pre-war and wartime Poland. People who do not know this history of this period will find much that Alvin Abram describes as incredible; but those who know this history will recognize that nothing that happens here, even the most grotesque detail, is groundless invention. He has built his account scrupulously on the abundant literature of the holocaust years.

 

At the end of the first book, we are told of a covenant which is entered into by ten survivors of the worst of the death camps – a minyan imposing on themselves the duty of achieving revenge on ten specific individuals whose murderous activities in those camps they have seen and suffered themselves.

 

At the beginning of the second book, we find ourselves in the midst of a murder mystery set in the heart of what in our youth was the Jewish section of central Toronto. We are introduced to the case long after it has gone cold; but tantalizing details are leading police investigators and freelance citizen-investigators on parallel paths of inquiry. At first, everybody gets everything wrong. But the two parallel investigations converge as two young people who imagine that the lives of their parents and grandparents are bound up in this story meet in Poland to pursue the leads which they find in journal of the minyan. They soon find that they have stirred up dark forces – some left over from the years of the holocaust, and others representing by self-appointed custodians of Hitler’s legacy, embarked on a well-organized scheme for finishing Hitler’s unfinished work.

  

At one level, this is an exercise in the art of vivid-story telling, with special appeal to readers of historical fiction. At an a deeper level, it is a sophisticated essay in moral philosophy – an examination through examples of the dialectic of revenge and forgiveness, or remembering and forgetting, of keeping alive and putting to rest the traces of deeds so dark that the historians have always failed to expose their meaning.

Paul and Gwendolyn Merkley.

Author of Christian Attitudes Towards the State of Israel

and American Presidents, Religion, and Israel 

 

Reading The Minyan was a true adventure from start to finish. The characters were alive and jumped out of the pages like a good friend. (Read the 425 pages in four days). The characters became a part of my life. I couldn’t wait to pick up the book again and continue on The Minyan’s journey. Each of the characters took on a life of their own and I seemed to become a part of the story.

 

From Gabe Garshowitz to Iris Forester, from Rachel Ackerman to Janusz Zwonarz, each character made the story move and move excitingly with their vulnerability and strength. The scenes from the death camps made a real impression on the brutality of that horrible period in history. The Minyan made one realize the pain and humiliation the victims felt and lived through and how revenge probably strengthened them to live through those horrific years. However, is revenge the answer? That is what The Minyan brought home for all of us to contemplate. Can we ever go back and how do we face the future?

Zelda Young

Shalom Jewish Programs – CHIN Radio