Essas would probably not be on the list. But Ilya -- now Eliyahu
-- Essas is one of this centuryís greatest Jewish revolutionaries.
Essas was a leader of the refuseniks, their teacher, their rosh
yeshivah, the firebrand who gave them courage when the secret
police were pounding on their doors. Trained as a brilliant
mathematician and secretly taught by his parents to be a proud
though silent Jew, Essas discovered the Torah in a musty corner of
the Vilnius Academy library. From that moment, his life was
He became the spark plug and inspiration of the Russian teshuvah
movement. He refused to live for himself. His life belonged to his
students and the cause of his newfound Torah Judaism. Incredibly,
he made himself an accomplished Torah scholar when it was a crime
to teach Torah in the Soviet Union. Incredibly, he was ordained a
rabbi. Incredibly, he developed of students who are themselves
leaders of Jewish life, in Russia, Israel, and America.
The Soviet Union of Essasís dangerous struggle is gone -- but the
story is as important as ever.
This book soars with the grandeur of the Jewish spirit; the
vitality of Jewish roots that lay buried but not dead under the
blood-soaked ice of Communist atheism for sixty years; the lush
new growth of Jewish awareness; the success story of Eliyahu Essas
and his valiant revolution.
And if any Jew ever imbides the poison of despair, this book is