The movement was Hasidism, the cataclysmic force that wiped away the narrow intellectualism that had estranged the Jewish masses from their heritage. Hasidism focused upon fundamental Judaism, on sublimely simple principles that stressed the joy of life, love of man, and sincerity in word and deed, qualities that the common people potentially possessed in full measure. The hasidic link with the Land of Israel is strong indeed. Apart from the United States of America, Israel now has the largest number of hasidim, probably numbering more than two hundred thousand. They are known by the dress they wear, by the way they speak, and by the melodies they hum. This is the first work of its kind to study the history and development of the hasidic community in Israel, from its foundation in the eighteenth century to the present.
The hasidim have much to teach us all, and our thanks are due to Rabbi Rabinowicz for a wholly fascinating insight into the lives of the great hasidic rebbes and their followers, each one a vivid universe of the spirit, each a living counterweight to a secular age that is in danger of mastering creation while forgetting the Creator. In these several songs of the soul we hear the astonishingly varied music of the Jewish people, undefeated by the Holocaust, still singing the old-new words in the old-new land in the great duet between a people and their God. This is a lovely book by a fine writer, a fitting tribute to the masters of the Jewish spirit and to the faith that inspired them and continues to inspire us.--Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, United Hebrew Congregation of the British Commonwealth