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A nation within a nation
In the early 1900s, the city of Krusta in Ruthenia, a little corner of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was home to a host of different nationalities, all with their own different faiths and aspirations.
A people within a people
The Krusta Hasidim are a proud sect of Jews, steeped in the rabbinical tradition and deemed conservative even among their own people. Many ask who these strange figures are with their black hats, their own language and their talk of a "Jewish Homeland."
A man amongst men
Yitzhak Jacobowitz is a Hasid from the mountains, reputedly the strongest man in Krusta, someone who takes nonsense from nobody. An ideal manager for Count Polony's flour mill, he marries Rifke Solomon - a mountain girl who was his childhood sweetheart - prospers and makes friendships across all social divides. But then times change. War is followed by defeat and depression. Who can we blame for our difficulties? They are on our doorstep.
This is the heart-wrenching saga of Hasidic communities on either side of the Atlantic, each headed by a "Krusta Rebbe", and both caught up in the terrifying political convulsions of the twentieth century. Full of warmth and humor, it is written with a firm grasp of the moral conflicts implicit in religious conservatism. The fast-moving narrative also traces the growth of prejudice, from "polite" sneers to open insults, violent attacks, and the orchestrated tragedy of the Holocaust. It is a reflection on the enigma of history and the survival of an unvanquished race.