JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH (10/29/2004) wrote:
Rabbi Zev Leff, the American-born haredi rabbi of Moshav Matityahu and head of the local yeshiva, took a group of Israeli and Diaspora Jews about two years ago to sites in Lithuania, Poland and Belarus. This excellent CD-ROM, which offers not only a generous color photo collection but also anecdotes, biographies, historical notes and religious lectures, documents this tour. One particularly moving museum photo in Slobodka shows a Yiddish message written in blood on a wall saying ³Jews Take Revenge!² Jewish music plays softly in the background, but it can be turned off if the user prefers to go on the virtual tour more quietly.
The only thing that¹s missing is video clips of interesting encounters, such as that with one of the few remaining Jews of Brisk (now now Brest-Litovsk) in Belarus who claimed to be a cousin of the late Menachem Begin, who was born there, or the gentile woman in Radin who as a girl lived next to the Hafetz Haim (Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan). The user knows of these only from photo subtitles; a Hebrew-speaking member of the group who lives in Ramat Gan does, however, provide an audio clip reminiscing about being a yeshiva student in Kelm one of 12 Holocaust survivors from a town with a Jewish population of 4,000.
The program is valuable not only for those who plan to make a trip to
The program is well organized, with a map of the three countries and
Many have an icon to click to hear an audio-file lecture by Leff or those of two other English-speaking rabbis, Yosef Ingber or Efaim Bryks, who accompanied the group. There are more icons to see a brief textual biography of noted rabbis who are buried there or the history of the Jews in that location. Among them are Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik (great grandfather of the late Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveitchik), Rabbi Yaakov Yitzhak (the Hozeh of Lublin), the Maharshal (Rabbi Solomon Luria), Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk and Rabbi Yitzhak Meir Rothenberg Alter (the founder of the Gur hassidic dynasty).
Obviously, the disk will appeal especially to modern Orthodox or haredi
users who want to hear Torah lectures. Leff and his two colleagues speak
about how the seeds of Torah were created out of the ashes of Europe; ³why
we are davening at cemeteries?²; debunking the myth of Jews going as sheep
to the slaughter; why do bad things happen to good people?; and viewing the
Holocaust from the safe shores of Israel.