JACOB'S COURAGE

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JACOB'S COURAGE: A HOLOCAUST LOVE STORY

Jacob's Courage (Mazo Publishers, 2007) is an epic novel set against the backdrop of the Holocaust.  It chronicles the dazzling beauty of passionate love and enduring bravery in a lurid world where the innocent are brutally murdered. 

Jacob's Courage is a tender coming of age story of two young adults living in Salzburg at the time when the Nazi war machine enters Austria.  This historical novel presents accurate scenes and situations of Jews in the ghettos and concentration camps, with particular attention to Theresienstadt and Auschwitz.  Follow Jacob and Rachael to a decrepit ghetto, from there to a prison camp where they became man and wife and finally to the terror of Auschwitz-Birkenau, where Jacob was forced to perform unspeakable acts in order to remain alive.  Stung by the death of loved-ones, enslaved and starved, they have nothing to count on but faith, love and courage. 

In 1939 Austria, seventeen year-old Jacob Silverman and Rachael Goldberg were bright, talented and deeply in love.  Because they were Jews, their families lost everything; their jobs, homes, possessions, money, contact with loved ones and finally thier liberty, disappear at the hands of the Nazis. As teenagers, Jacob and Rachael survived Nazi beatings, rape and torture, to enjoy the physical and spiritual pleasure of being in love.  They became man and wife in a concentration camp and escaped to join the partisans and fight the Nazis.  Jacob was later recaptured and sent to Auschwitz with his parents.  Driven by the belief that God had a plan for him to become a leader and save the innocent, Jacob found a way to tolerate the intolerable.   Faith and deep love for Rachael help him to survive.   This book is dedicated to the hope that Holocaust education can prevent its reappearance

 

 

 

 

"Gut Wrenching and Heart Rending."  Holocaust Center of Toledo (OH), 2007 

by Hindea Markowicz, Director 

Jacob's Courage is a very well researched novel that vividly brings the realities of the Holocaust to life through the eyes of two people, Jacob, the title character, and Rachel, the girl he falls in love with as the war breaks out and eventually marries in the Theresienstadt Ghetto, only to be separated at deportation to Auschwitz.

The gripping epic story follows each of their paths from their pre-war Jewish community to their expulsions, their ghetto life, their separation via deportations, their experiences in slave labor camps, in death camps, in the resistance, on death marches, and their liberations and miraculous reunification. In each setting, the vivid portrayals of the travails of the principals and the other characters in the novel bring the experience of the Holocaust to life on a personal level. The book depicts the brutality of the Nazis and their henchmen, exposing the demonic and cruel nature of too many human beings during that era. The characters are faced with hard choices of life and death, betrayal and loyalty. The events of the novel are gut wrenching and heart rending.

The book could just as well been called Jacob and Rachel's Courage as the parallel stories of each of their experiences during the Holocaust exhibit equal measures of courage in the face of depravity and adversity that seems too incredible to believe were it not an accurate depiction of the reality of what took place in the heart of 20th century Europe. It well fulfills the role of good historical fiction by giving the reader the experience of living through an historical event by depicting the many aspects of life at that time through the experiences of the central and secondary characters. First time author Weinblatt is very successful in this regard. His Holocaust is very real and very accurate in the descriptions of the locales and the conditions of existence of each setting. The people that populate the novel are not merely two dimensional archetypes or clichés but fully formed humans with frailties and shortcomings in addition to positive qualities.

Although it is a novel, it is an excellent primer on the Holocaust. The reader will be left with a very accurate understanding of this cataclysmic time from a historical perspective, but with the additional emotions evoked that a dry history book cannot provide. Perhaps this is its greatest strength. Though the book is epic in length and scope, Weinblatt's characters and characterizations compel the reader to read onward. At the end of the read one feels both hope and admiration for the human spirit that can endure and survive the ordeals of the various victims depicted, although fictional but not unlike experiences endured by actual survivors, and disgust and despair with the dark side of the human spirit because the historical facts of the Holocaust in which the novel is set are all too true.
Hindea Markowicz is Director of the Ruth Fajerman Markowicz Holocaust Resource Center of Greater Toledo. 

"And I Cried..."  Sylvania (OH) Historical Society

Although the characters in Jacob's Courage are fictional, they are based on real people. Weinblatt's characters take the reader on their journey from their pre-war Jewish community to the end of the war. The adversity they faced was real and the experiences they went through were all experiences someone went through. In order to write Jacob's Courage Weinblatt did a considerable amount of research.

I rarely read fiction but knew I had to read Jacob's Courage. This book brings the Holocaust to life and evokes emotions not found in many history books. Weaving together a story of love, passion, horror, and history, Weinblatt left nothing out. The book was difficult to read because it openly exposed the brutality and cruelty people were and are capable of. As a mother of a young child, I was especially saddened to read the experiences of families being torn apart at camps. A line was formed that contained the "very old, sick or very young. Children were crying and screaming for their mothers." Those that could not work were sent to this line and were kept there by guards with large barking dogs. This line went straight to the gas chamber. If that had been me, I realized that I would have been forced in one line and my daughter in the other. I cried at the thought and I cried knowing what these people had to go through. Weinblatt made the Holocaust very real and successfully pulled me into his novel.


Despite the few overlooked typos mentioned by other reviewers, I am left with a better understanding of this time in history thanks to Weinblatt. He did an amazing job writing a Holocaust history, and Jacob's Courage gives readers the opportunity to analyze examples of intolerance throughout history. Over sixty years later, people are still persecuted for their religious and political differences. Weinblatt asks, "Have we learned nothing from the mistakes of history?"

"A tender, coming of age tale."  Jewish Book World, Winter 2007

This novel traces the progression of the Nazi war machine from its onset to the Holocaust’s devastating conclusion through the thoughts and experiences of the central character, Jacob Silverman, a seventeen-year-old aspiring musician and law student from Salzburg, Austria.  Jacob is the only son of a prominent local doctor, Moshe Silverman, and his kind but troubled wife, Hanna.  Rachel Goldberg is the love of Jacob’s life and the daughter of Ariel, another respected physician in Salzburg and a close friend and colleague of Jacob’s father.  Through Jacob and Rachel’s bond the families become further connected and their destinies intertwined.

 

Long before Hitler’s army puts its plans for the annihilation of the Jewish people into motion, Jacob has a horrific dream so vivid that he is convinced it must be a premonition warning him of the atrocities to come.  From isolation to starvation and torture, Jacob bears witness as the Nazis systematically dehumanize the Jewish race, bringing their brazen plot for extermination ever closer to reality.  Jacob’s feelings of powerlessness are often interrupted by thoughts of rebellion and escape and the possibility that God has a greater plan for him, a destiny bound to leadership and the survival of Judaism.

 

Mixed among the detailed descriptions of the surreal atrocities inflicted upon the Jews of Europe is a tender coming of age tale.  Jacob and Rachel’s love flourishes amid the ghettos and concentration camps where they are forced to reside.  While their emotional strength and devotion is to be commended, the revealed details of their relationship often feel misplaced and inappropriate set against the backdrop of destitute labor and death camps.  The inner thoughts of individual characters revealed regularly throughout the book are also distracting as the dialogue has a tendency to be redundant and unrealistic under the circumstances.  This book shows the critical roles that love, determination, and steadfast belief play toward battling one’s demons both physically and mentally.  While at times difficult to digest, Jacob’s Courage is ultimately a tribute to the triumphant human spirit.  MBD

"The reader sees events through the eyes of archetypal participants... a hero."  Association of Jewish Libraries, Fall 2008

Seventeen-year-old Jacob Silverman enters the ghetto, is transported to a prison camp, escapes to join partisans, and is captured and re-interred.  On a death march, Jacob is able to escape again and lead all those with him to fight against the Germans.  Jacob is not the only one followed in this lengthy novel; so too are his beloved, Rachael whom he marries in the prison camp, his father, a renowned surgeon.  The reader sees events through the eyes of archetypal participants: a doctor forced to experiment on his own, a Sonderkommando, and a hero.  The length of the book might deter some readers, but the work is well worth the effort.

Sara Rofofsky Marcus, Yeshiva Har Torah, Bayside, NY

"The author maintains a driving, relentless pace..."  University of Toledo Alumni Magazine, Fall 2007

If the unspeakable horror that was the Holocaust can be encapsulated in single moments, perhaps they would be similar to the terrible scenes in Weinblatt’s fictional story of teenage Jacob Silverman and his family — seeing lives snuffed out in the execution pit as bulldozers push dirt over the still-breathing, in the concentration camp showers as Zyklon-B engulfs screaming women and children, in the Auschwitz medical laboratory as internal organs are removed from the living without anesthesia.  The author maintains a driving, relentless pace as Jacob and his beloved Rachael try to escape the madness of Nazi Germany while maintaining their humanity; in the end, the visionary protagonist (Jacob sees his future in a series of Prophetic dreams) comes to echo his Biblical counterpart who fled danger in his own country and saw a life-changing vision in his dreams.

— C.N.

"Weinblatt has the talent to convey the terror of the Jews" James E. Vigiletti, Attorney at Law

C.S. Weinblatt has written an important novel of a love story set in the horror of the Holocaust. The story takes Jacob and his betrothed Rachel from prewar Austria through the Nazi takeover and the assembly like destruction of the Jews ending in Auschwitz. The story is based on facts, many of them of the most distatesful variety, but should be read by all to see and experience what these innocent people went through. Some of it will make you cry and your skin crawl. Weinblatt has the talent to convey the terror of the Jews. Its not a pretty story but one on the most important stories. I highly reccomend it.

"You see hear and smell... Hitler's Third Reich" Ron Braithwaite, author 

'Jacob's Courage' is a love story embedded in one of the greatest disasters of human history--Hitler's Third Reich and the mass killing that attended it. This is a story of almost unrelieved horror. You hear, see and smell the murder of individuals and the destruction of a people. It isn't pretty. There's malevolence, pointless discrimination, abuse, rape, mass murder and more.

It is an excruciating tale, made all the more difficult by the fact that these things actually happened. The author, C.S. Weinblatt, has done an excellent job in making the reader relive the Holocaust. The question is, is the reader actually prepared to revisit--in graphic detail--one of the most horrific events in human history?

Ron Braithwaite, author of novels--"Skull Rack" and "Hummingbird God"--on the Spanish Conquest of Mexico

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Charles S. Weinblatt was born in Toledo, Ohio in1952.  He is a retired University of Toledo administrator. His biography appears in Marquis Who's Who in America and Who's Who in American Education.  Weinblatt is the author of Job Seeking Skills for Students (1986, Kendall Hunt Publishing) and Jacob's Courage (2007, Mazo Publishers).   Weinblatt was a frequent Toledo television news guest, providing analysis of economic and labor news.  He received the 2004 Douglas Frasier Swift Award.  Weinblatt writes novels short stories and articles. 

 

 

 

 

 

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