"One Shavuos night, in a hideout between the trees of the
forest, the Rav of Potick made kiddush over a bit of
wine and recited the shehecheyonu blessing. When asked
how he could recite shehecheyonu on so difficult a
period, he replied: `My shehecheyonu is in gratitude to
Hashem for my staunchness of faith, which has not waned even
by a hairsbreadth.'"
This is an excerpt from the Shema Yisroel Encyclopedia,
published by the Bnei Brak Kalever Center. The Encyclopedia
commemorates the mesiras nefesh and kiddush
Hashem of the Holocaust martyrs. The authors gathered the
material from hundreds of books written about the Holocaust.
They culled unbelievable stories about mitzvah observance and
how Torah-observant Jews were meticulous about the
halochos between man and Hashem and man and his fellow,
even under subhuman conditions. The book describes how the
trust and faith in Hashem of these shomrei mitzvos grew
stronger in face of the horrors.
The book is encyclopedic in format as well as in scope.
Entries are alphabetized under grim topics like "death
camps," "ghettos" and "rescue." Never before has such an
extensive collection of stories of Jewish courage been
However, it is difficult to define so shocking and inspiring
a book like this as a dry encyclopedia whose purpose is to
convey mere information. Whoever picks up this book cannot
An inseparable part of the work is the section called
"Zeicher Le'olom Yehiyeh Tzaddik," containing pictures and
biographies of admorim and rabbonim who experienced the
events of those days of wrath.
The book is the result of the vision of the Admor of Kalev, a
Holocaust survivor who has devoted his life to memorializing
the Holocaust martyrs and to increasing Jewish awareness. The
Admor stresses that the book is directed to all levels of the
nation. Its purpose is to add an unknown chapter to written
history: kiddush Sheim Shomayim in the Holocaust.
The Admor plans to found the Shema Yisroel Yad Vashem Tov
Center in Jerusalem to complement work done by other
institutions perpetuating the Holocaust. The center will
conduct lectures and seminars for adults as well as youth.
Through use of audio and visual aids, the center will depict
Torah Jewry prior to and during the Holocaust and how it
withstood the test of faith and mesiras nefesh for
Torah amidst persecution, torture and mass murders.
The center will also portray the gedolei Yisroel who
were the pillars of fire for the believers' camp, and will
describe the remarkable revival of Torah Jewry after the