Jacob's Courage is a tender coming of age love story of two young adults living in Salzburg at the time when the Nazi war machine enters Austria. This historical novel presents accurate scenes and situations of Jews in ghettos and concentration camps, with particular attention to Theresienstadt and Auschwitz. It explores the dazzling beauty of passionate love and enduring bravery in a lurid world where the innocent are brutally murdered. From desperate despair, to unforgettable moments of chaste beauty, Jacobís Courage examines a constellation of emotions during a time of incomprehensible brutality.
How would you feel if, at age seventeen, the government removed you from school, evicted you from your home, looted your bank account and took all of your family's possessions? How would you feel if ruthless police prevented your parents from working and then deported you and your loved ones to a prison camp run by brutal taskmasters? How would you feel if you suddenly lost contact with everyone that you know and love? How would you feel if you were sent to the most frightening place in history, and then forced to perform unspeakable acts of horror in order to remain alive?
This is the story of an Austrian Jewish family's experience during World War II. The central character is seventeen year-old Jacob Silverman.
According to Jewish Book World, "Jacob’s Courage is ultimately a tribute to the triumphant human spirit.”
It is also a passionate coming-of-age love story. In the words of one reviewer, "The love that grows between Jacob and Rachael sustains them through the horrors of life in a Nazi death camp."
The Sylvania Historical Society said, "Weaving together a story of love, passion, horror, and history, Weinblatt left nothing out.”
Another reviewer says," “Weinblatt has painted a picture with words of the horrors of the holocaust... in a haunting and evocative way."
On a snowy winter night, during his seventeenth year, Jacob has an incredibly vivid and realistic nightmare, in which he is forced to feed the dead bodies of Jews into a gigantic inferno. In the dream, he is killed by a German soldier for refusal to obey orders. Jacob is convinced that the horrifying nightmare is a premonition. Disturbed by this ghastly vision, and heavily influenced by his father, Jacob begins to believe that he will have an important role to play in the future. While he cannot grasp the concept in its entirety, Jacob reaches the conclusion that he will one day be responsible for saving innocent people.
Jewish Book World
JACOBíS COURAGE: A HOLOCAUST LOVE STORY
Charles S. Weinblatt
Mazo Publishers, 2007. 522 pp. $22.95
This novel traces the progression of the Nazi war machine from its onset to the Holocaustís devastating conclusion through the thoughts and experiences of the central character, Jacob Silverman, a seventeen-year-old aspiring musician and law student from Salzburg, Austria. Jacob is the only son of a prominent local doctor, Moshe Silverman, and his kind but troubled wife, Hanna. Rachel Goldberg is the love of Jacobís life and the daughter of Ariel, another respected physician in Salzburg and a close friend and colleague of Jacobís father. Through Jacob and Rachelís bond the families become further connected and their destinies intertwined.
Long before Hitlerís army puts its plans for the annihilation of the Jewish people into motion, Jacob has a horrific dream so vivid that he is convinced it must be a premonition warning him of the atrocities to come. From isolation to starvation and torture, Jacob bears witness as the Nazis systematically dehumanize the Jewish race, bringing their brazen plot for extermination ever closer to reality. Jacobís feelings of powerlessness are often interrupted by thoughts of rebellion and escape and the possibility that God has a greater plan for him, a destiny bound to leadership and the survival of Judaism.
Mixed among the detailed descriptions of the surreal atrocities inflicted upon the Jews of Europe is a tender coming of age tale. Jacob and Rachelís love flourishes amid the ghettos and concentration camps where they are forced to reside. While their emotional strength and devotion is to be commended, the revealed details of their relationship often feel misplaced and inappropriate set against the backdrop of destitute labor and death camps. The inner thoughts of individual characters revealed regularly throughout the book are also distracting as the dialogue has a tendency to be redundant and unrealistic under the circumstances. This book shows the critical roles that love, determination, and steadfast belief play toward battling oneís demons both physically and mentally. While at times difficult to digest, Jacobís Courage is ultimately a tribute to the triumphant human spirit. MBD
Association of Jewish Libraries
Seventeen-year-old Jacob Silverman enters the ghetto, is transported to a prison camp, escapes to join partisans, and is captured and re-interred. On a death march, Jacob is able to escape again and lead all those with him to fight against the Germans. Jacob is not the only one followed in this lengthy novel; so too are his beloved, Rachael whom he marries in the prison camp, his father, a renowned surgeon. The reader sees events through the eyes of archetypal participants: a doctor forced to experiment on his own, a Sonderkommando, and a hero. The length of the book might deter some readers, but the work is well worth the effort.
Sara Rofofsky Marcus, Yeshiva Har Torah, Bayside, NY
University of Toledo Alumni Magazine
If the unspeakable horror that was the Holocaust can be encapsulated in single moments, perhaps they would be similar to the terrible scenes in Weinblattís fictional story of teenage Jacob Silverman and his family ó seeing lives snuffed out in the execution pit as bulldozers push dirt over the still-breathing, in the concentration camp showers as Zyklon-B engulfs screaming women and children, in the Auschwitz medical laboratory as internal organs are removed from the living without anesthesia. The author maintains a driving, relentless pace as Jacob and his beloved Rachael try to escape the madness of Nazi Germany while maintaining their humanity; in the end, the visionary protagonist (Jacob sees his future in a series of Prophetic dreams) comes to echo his Biblical counterpart who fled danger in his own country and saw a life-changing vision in his dreams.