Rabbi Israel Joseph Lew was born in Vengroff, Poland in 1884. He was a follower of Ger, received semicha (his rabbinical diploma) in Warsaw and lived on his father-in-law’s home in Siedlce for a while. He was involved with Agudas Yisroel in Poland, and was part of the important rabbinic delegation that visited Great Britain and the United States in 1922 to enlist help for Eastern European Orthodox Jewry. They included Rabbi Asher Spitzer, Rabbi Dr. Meir Hildesheimer, Dr. Nathan Birnbaum and Rabbi Meir Dan Plotzky. I have written about Rabbi Meir Dan Plotzky and his book Chemdas Yisroel previously.
On the return journey Rabbi Lew addressed a large meeting in Mile End on the financial plight of Polish Jewry, and was offered and accepted the position of Rabbi at the independent Lincoln Street Bow congregation. This eventually acquired a disused chapel in Harley Grove, Bow and became the Mile End and Bow District Synagogue, part of the United Synagogue (not to be confused with the Mile End and Bow Federation Synagogue).
I have previously written about the first part of this book, on the Chumash (the Five Books of Moses) published in London during the war, in 1942. This volume covers the rest of the books of the Bible – the Prophets and Writings.
This second part consists of a selection from the Talmud and Midrash together with brief explanatory comments. Rabbi Lew writes that “This book… appears in Yiddish in order to make it accessible both to the general reader and to the student and preacher”. The first volume, of course, was published in 1942, and written before the fate of European Jewry was known. This volume was published in 1947, by which time, as Rabbi Lew says, “Six million Jews, the faithful upholders of Torah and tradition, have been exterminated by the sadistic Nazis.” The number of Yiddish readers was greatly diminished.
The book was printed by the Narodiczky Press in Whitechapel, London.