This book is by Rabbi Joshua Szpetman, known by his diminutive name “Shiya”. Rabbi Szpetman was a native of Lublin, who had already been a Rosh Yeshiva (Head of a Rabbinical Academy) in Poland when he emigrated to London. He was the Rabbi of the Nelson Street Sephardishe Synagogue in the East End of London from the 1930s until his death in 1964.
In 1938, before the war and the Holocaust, he was still able to have this book printed in Warsaw. My copy has paper that has become toned and a little brittle with age.
Rabbi Szpetman’s background was Chassidic, and he befriended the Chassidic rebbes in London and graced most of their functions. He was a friend and disciple of the author and thinker Hillel Zeitlin. He was an orator and author and wrote regularly for the London Yiddish Newspaper Di Zeit. The Editor of Di Zeit, Morris Myers, was also the editor for this book. Rabbi Szpetman was a prolific author of articles and High Holy Days booklets (one of which I have written about before).
His rhetoric is quite fiery and challenging. He was sometimes known as the “red rabbi”. According to the late Rabbi Rabinowicz (in his book “A World Apart”), Rabbi Szpetman was not afraid to criticize spiritual or lay leaders. he hated untruths, dishonesty and hypocrisy. He frowned on displays of pretentiousness and was unique in tolerance and sympathy.
Here is his foreword to his book:
I have chosen three items from the book. A sermon for Rosh Hashanah, a piece entitled Work, Master and Worker, and a sermon given on the coronation of King George VI in 1937: