The Jewish Eye
Memories of the small Swedish haven which 120 girls called "home" after the Holocaust
By Chana (Igell) Mantel
Translated into English by Edward Levine
Machon Yachdav, Jerusalem: 1998
Distributed by Feldheim Publishers
Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - February 24, 2004
The horrors of the Holocaust did not end with the conclusion of War World II. Many of the survivors were emotionally and physically scared, and worse, their very faith was shaken by the horrific events they had endured and witnessed. Many of the young Jewish women who survived, were left orphaned by the war. Without a family and bereft of a decent Jewish education (due to the war), these courageous young women where in danger of being lost to the Jewish people. Others, who yearned to return to a Torah observant environment, were afraid that the Nazis had destroyed that hope forever.
Out of the ruins left by the Holocaust, a school for young Jewish women who had been left orphaned by the war was established in Lidingo, Sweden. Sponsored by the Vaad HaHatzalah, this school provided a nurturing and religious atmosphere in which these damaged flowers could recuperate and catch up on their years of missed education.
Chana Mantel's book, Lidingo, chronicles the founding of the school, and those that managed and taught the girls, as well as the history of many of the girls that found a refuge in Lidingo. In the course of telling the story of Lidingo, Mrs. Mantel also details the histories of many of the girls, including the heart-wrenching details of what they had to endure during the war - and how they managed to survive. While attending the school, these young woman lived in a family environment and had their health needs taken care of, as well as their educational and spiritual needs. There they learned their alef-beis, studied the Tanach, and recovered their health. Most of the young women who found a home in Lidingo, eventually emigrated to Israel, established Torah observant households, and are now proud grandmothers.
This book is important as an historical account, not only of the efforts that were undertaken, in Sweden and at the Lidingo school, to rehabilitate the remnants of European Jewry, but also as a history of the lives the young women led before and during the Holocaust. It is also a phenomenally uplifting book. The spiritual components of their education, and the love and support they received there, help to ensure that the 120 young women who found a home in Lidingo were given the opportunity to complete their 'growing up' in the most nurturing environment possible and to find a foundation, based on the precepts of the Torah, upon which they could build solid and productive lives.
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