In the annals of Jewish literature, I BELIEVE by Leibel Zisman will find a unique place. For this is a most remarkable story – the story of ud mutzal m’aish, a burning ember which remains standing, smoldering, after a disastrous fire.
Leibel Zisman was a little sapling, flourishing in the Jewish paradise that was Kovno, Lita, nourished by a Torah-observant community famed for its acts of loving- kindness. In the blink of an eye it all changed, when World War II broke out. The Russians marched in and set up Communist rule in Kovno, followed by the Germans, who herded the Jews into a ghetto. After several years of depravations and horrors, during which he witnessed his father and little brother taken by the Nazis, little Leibel, just 13 years old, was shoved onto a cattle-train … for the long journey to Auschwitz. Yet he survived this, miraculously, all the while clinging to his roots and to his faith. From the ashes of the Holocaust, the little sapling emerged a living, breathing smoldering ember – scorched and darkened by unspeakable loss and pain, nearly dead, but still very much alive, full of hidden fire and passion, waiting for a bit of fresh air to fan the hidden sparks and bring his soul to life.
This is the story of Leibel Zisman’s life … how he grew up, how he survived, and how he never lost his faith … and how, once liberated, he made his way to America where, with the help of God, he succeeded in helping to rebuild New York.
This is a story like no other, a story of faith against the odds, a story of horrible suffering and indescribable joy, a story that will make you weep, laugh and rejoice at the gift of life.