The Secret of Redemption

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
418 Pages
Reviewed on 02/22/2024
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Author Biography

I was born in St. Louis, Missouri, received my bachelor's degree at Miami University (Oxford, Ohio), and was ordained as a reform rabbi at Leo Baeck College in London, England. For forty two years, I served pulpits in England, Canada, and the United States. My first book, "The Ballad of East and West" was based on my Soviet Jewry work and on one of my two visits to the former Soviet Union in the early 1980s. My current book, "The Secret of Redemption" is the sequel which takes place thirty years after the events of "The Ballad of East and West". My readers wanted to know what became of some of the refuseniks whose lives I had touched. In my current book, which is also largely autobiographical, the protagonist confronts two social issues which bring back the memories of the 1980s. He wishes to rent out part of his synagogue's facilities to an afternoon school for Latinx children and he gets involved with a church who is providing sanctuary for so-called illegal immigrants. His experience with marginalized Soviet Jews and extensive experience working with Holocaust survivors compel him to be compassionate towards the disenfranchised within his own community. In Israel, Rabbi Levin's daughter, Bracha, fights for the human rights of Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. The human rights work of father and daughter convey the message that both remembrance of the past loving the stranger as ourselves is the true secret of redemption.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Secret of Redemption is a work of fiction in the recent historical, religious, and slice-of-life subgenres. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience. Penned by author Jeffrey Gale, this intriguing tale delves into the intertwined lives of Rabbi Levin and his daughter, Bracha, as they grapple with the echoes of historical trauma and contemporary injustices. Set against the backdrop of November 2013, the narrative explores Rabbi Levin's reflections on the seventy-fifth anniversary of Kristallnacht, juxtaposed with the challenges faced by his congregation in northern Manhattan. Meanwhile, Bracha, engaged in human rights work in Jerusalem, confronts the complexities of the Israel-Palestinian conflict and witnesses violations of human rights. As both father and daughter navigate their respective spheres, they confront prejudice, discrimination, and violence, prompting them to embark on a journey of remembrance and redemption.

Author Jeffrey Gale's narrative poignantly captures the intergenerational transmission of trauma and resilience, highlighting the importance of confronting the past to envision a more just and compassionate future. The character work is key in this accomplished novel and Gale achieves a huge sense of realism through the close narrative techniques as we get to know this extraordinary family. Their dialogue speaks volumes between the lines and allows ideas and concepts to build slowly and collaboratively so that readers never feel left behind or overwhelmed by the themes of the story. Through Rabbi Levin's and Bracha's experiences, the novel offers profound insights into the enduring power of remembrance as a catalyst for healing and transformation in the face of adversity, as well as a chance to see how ordinary people can engage with big ideas in a meaningful way. Overall, I would certainly recommend The Secret of Redemption as a deeply involved and thought-provoking drama for fans of recent history, culture, and religious topics.

Ariel Lee

Rabbi Isaac Levin has spent a lifetime demonstrating his commitment to human rights. The name of his faith community is Rodef Tzedek, or Pursuer of Justice. He is the embodiment of this name as he works tirelessly and with heart and conviction to bring about justice, fairness, and equality to all. He exhibits courage and fearlessness in his quest to meet this goal. With meticulous detail, Gale strives to ensure that the reader understands the recurring leit-motifs of politics, law, and history interwoven with his personal story. Gale describes real life historical and political events with the precision and accuracy of a surgeon, interweaving them with the lived experience of his characters. He takes the reader on a journey over time lines and continents as he reflects on early events in his career path and introduces the reader to his adult children.. He deftly imparts the beauty of Jewish prayer and ritual in a way that is meaningful. In his first novel, The Ballad of East and West, he conveyed the commitment and compassion with which he practices his faith. In The Secret of Redemption, we meet the mature Rabbi Levin, a man who reflects on his lifetime of experience in being a pursuer of justice. At the same time, he relates the story of his daughter Bracha as she embarks on her own unique path. Bracha's full name is Bracha Shulamith, translated as “blessing of peace.” The book describes how father and daughter, in their own ways, look beyond boundaries, borders, and fences while building bridges between people of varied faiths and backgrounds. At times, the text reads like a tome, laden with the heaviness of history, of a world laden with chaos, darkness and pain. However, in the end, the reader is left with the sense that as long as there are people like Rabbi Levin and Bracha, people of courage and commitment to greater ideals, there is hope for healing, light, and peace to emerge and to triumph.