Faith Amid the Flames, The Story of Reb Yosef Friedenson, by R’ Yosef C. Golding (Artscroll) is the just published story of the wartime experiences of Yosef Friedenson (1922-2013) z’l. Friedenson survived the horrors of the Holocaust, along with his wife Gittel (Zylberman) a’h – whom he married in the Warsaw Ghetto – and he went on to become a leader of American Jewry as editor of Dos Yiddishe Vort, a leader of Agudath Israel, a lecturer and historian.
He brought the story of the Holocaust to light, focusing on the bravery, mesiras nefesh, and heroism of “simple” Jews, who never gave up on themselves, other Jews, or G-d. Maintaining his staunch faith throughout, Friedenson spent his life fighting for Am Yisrael and Yahadus, which he always knew would survive any and every enemy.
The must-read book is inspiring, hopeful, powerful and impactful, with many lessons contained therein, from a man who found G-d and faith in every situation.
On a personal note, the book resonated very strongly with me (I could hardly put it down), as Friedenson’s wife, Gittel a’h, was my maternal grandmother’s first cousin. Gittel’s father and my grandmother’s father were brothers, and they grew up – and lived, until liquidation by the Nazis y’s – in the same town.
There are chapters on life in Shidlovtza, my grandmother’s town, stories about my grandmother’s family, the textile business her father, Yehoshua Asher Zylberman ran with his family, including Gittlel’s father.
On p.159 is the story of how Gittle and Chanka Freilich (my grandmother’s two first cousins) were saved during their escape from Shidlovtza. I remember well Chanka Freilich a’h, and we have pictures with her from when she visited my family (on multiple occasions) when I was a young girl.
As my grandmother’s yarzheit is commemorated this coming 29 Tammuz 5779, this book has been a personal gift to me, as it has shed much light on life in her town, both before, but mainly during, the war.
May the neshama of my grandmother, Baila Tzirel a’h bas R’ Yehoshua Asher HY”D Zylberman merit an aliyah. And in memory of her daughter, Rivka Bracha HY”D, murdered by the accursed Nazis y’s.
תהא זכרם ברוך