Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews in World War II

Norman Gershman, Author Syracuse University Press $39.95 (160p) ISBN 978-0-8156-0934-6
Long-time fine art photographer Gershman spent five years collecting the stories of Albanian Muslims who harbored Jewish refugees during WWII as part of the Islamic tradition of Besa, or sanctuary, and his record provides a clear and powerful push back against a popular image more recently shaped by violent extremists. Each new page offers a portrait and a brief anecdote on the origins of the family, the people they helped, and the bonds that formed between the Albanian and Jewish families. Gershman's portraits are skillful and expressive, capturing warmth and pride but also the weight of the 60 years that have passed since the War. The subjects' resonant voices-""I did nothing special. All Hebrews are our brothers""-share tales of kindnesses and unexpected lives conceived in the midst of catastrophe and destruction. A haunting look at the power of love, compassion and generosity to unite faiths and deliver genuine salvation, this illustrated oral history will fascinate. 66 b&w photos.
Reviewed on: 11/03/2008
Release date: 11/01/2008
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