Friday, December 13, 2013

A Rather Unusual book given out at a Bar Mitzvah: Mendel Beilis, the story of my life

I came across an interesting edition of Mendel Beilis' autobiography in the original Yiddish. Printed in 1993, the book was privately published in honor of the Shanovitch family's son Bar Mitzvah, a rather odd choice I thought.

There is a phone number in the book, but a call to the family didn't lead to any explanation other than that Beilis was an important man in their community, the community of Chabad.

After the title page appears a statement by the family in Yiddish: " With praise to G-d we are pleased to reprint the autobiography of Mendel Beilus. the Beilus Blood Libel trial has a special place in Jewish History for had he not emerged innocent the consequences would have been dire for Jewry...."

hat-tip: Dr S. Sprecher


  1. The note added to the book, The Story of My Suffering, by Mendel Beilis, by the (re)publisher, states that the 5th and 6th Lubavitcher Rebbes, among others, were involved in the Beilis case. That explains why it had special significance for a Lubavitcher.

    1. That still doesn't explain why they would feel the urge to give it out at a bar-mitzvah. Chabad has many books of their own and many biographies of their Rabbis published, this book is a rather depressing choice, i would think, a story of a blood libel trial seems out of place at a bar-mitzvah.

  2. The point is that Beilis was astoundingly acquited by a jury of peasants, in a place where anti-semitism was/is endemic. So it was a great victory at the end! And I guess the Lubavitcher thought that his Rebbes shared in the credit due to their involvement.