"Jewish survivors and emigres will be enamored with this rare and unique book. Orthodox Jews too will value the work and appreciate the tenacity with which orthodoxy survived and adapted to these difficult post-war circumstances. Readers interested in Hungarian or Eastern European Jewry, Jewish memoirs and auto-biographies will also agree on the quality and importance of this work."—Howard Lupovitch, director of the Cohn-Haddow Center for Judaic Studies, Wayne State University
"Everyone has a story to tell, so they say – but members of minorities often have the most compelling ones. And if one is a citizen of a small state repeatedly convulsed by history, such as Hungary – and of a minority often discriminated against within it – and of a minority group within your minority religion – the stories can be unrelentingly compelling. Eva Maria Thury’s seamless translations make the stories recorded by Sándor Bacskai come to vivid life in the reader’s imagination."—Peter V. Czipott, translator of Antal Szerb’s Journey by Moonlight
"Sándor Bacskai’s powerful collection of oral histories of Hungarians in the Shoah and then life under the Stalinists presents us with memories that must always be refreshed, for Jews and also, and perhaps more importantly, for gentiles."—David R. Slavitt, translator of Sixty-one Psalms and The Book of Lamentations
"It is of utmost importance to tell the story of this era and commemorate the courage of a handful Jews devoted to the traditional ways of Jewish life. Bacskai’s book, in Thury’s sensitive translation, helps fill the lacuna by providing source material for researchers: interviews with the members of the religious communities."—Judit Frigyesi, Bar Ilan University
"If the reader is familiar with Hungarian, this book will be a real treat. If, on the other hand, the reader knows little about Hungary and the history of its Jewish population, this book will be truly instructive. . . . this is a fine contribution for an understanding of Judaism as it has existed in Europe and a distinctive examination of how Jews have existed in Hungary."—Association of Jewish Libraries Reviews
Originally published in 1997, Bacskai’s powerful ethnography portrays the political, religious, and individual forces that came to bear on the Orthodox Jewish tradition as it struggled for survival in the aftermath of the Holocaust in Hungary. Jews who returned to their homes eagerly reestablished their close-knit community lives. However, they were greeted with hostility and faced daily prejudice. Following the fall of Hungarian democracy, the number of Orthodox Jewish congregations dramatically decreased. Those who remained struggled to combat antisemitism and antizionism. It is these individuals, the bearers of the Orthodox Jewish tradition, whom Bacskai celebrates and gives voice to in One Step toward Jerusalem. Through detailed interviews and intimate profiles, Bacskai narrates the individual stories of survival and the collective story of Jews struggling to maintain a community despite significant resistance.
Sándor Bacskai is a Hungarian writer, editor, and photographer.
Eva Maria Thury is associate professor in the Department of English and Philosophy at Drexel University.
Series: Modern Jewish History
6 x 9, 272 pages, 6 black and white illustrations, 2 maps