Rabbi Ray Zwerin (HUC-JIR/Cincinnati ’64), Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Sinai, Denver, recently published Holy Fire (The Sinai Press, Denver, 2012), a remarkable double-tale by a gifted storyteller. Zwerin weaves together the biblical plot of the death of Nadav and Abihu in the context of the desert wanderings with the story of Nate and Avi, survivors of the destruction of Yugoslavian Jewry in World War II and the resurrection of their lives and family in Mandate Palestine and the State of Israel.
We know the biblical plot, but not this new telling; we know a lot of Holocaust history, but little about pre-Holocaust Belgrade and Sarajevo and the Jews who fought as Partizans with Tito against the Nazis. The fictional midrash and modern narrative grab the reader so that you can't put it down, and don't know whether to read straight through, or skip every other chapter and read the biblical and modern stories separately.
Because of its themes, Holy Fire is a great gift for Pesach time, or any time. It would make for an engaging Adult Education or Confirmation Class text; a Leader's Guide is available from the author.
Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is the nation's first institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu