Reverend Ernest Levy, chazzan of Giffnock synagogue in Glasgow spoke about his second book, ‘The Single Light’, a chronicle of his experiences during and after the Holocaust, at the Scottish Parliament in January to an audience that included family, members of the Jewish community, MSPs and Parliament staff.
The book takes its name from an incident he describes that took place during the long forced march to Belsen towards the end of the war. Hungry and exhausted, he picked up a sardine tin discarded by a German guard, hoping that there might be something left to eat. But instead of drinking the dregs of oil in the tin he succeeded in fashioning a wick and lit a flame. Crammed together in a barn, he and other concentration camp inmates sang Maoz Tzur.
Reverend Levy still has that sardine tin, and standing in the Scottish Parliament, lit tin in hand he said “You might not realise it, but the difference between a single light and total darkness is tremendous. We were there in such terrible conditions and managed to use this tin to give us light. We sang Maoz Tzur and it gave us hope.”
Reverend Levy described how much it meant to him to be able to launch his book at the Scottish Parliament, saying “I have never felt so Scottish in my life. To stand here in the Scottish Parliament surrounded by family friends and important people is a fantastic wonderful moment for me.”
Ken Macintosh, MSP for Eastwood, who organised the launch, described Reverend Levy as “a real gentleman and a remarkable man for many reasons.” and said “If you know something of his ordeal you realise that it is really remarkable that his humanity, warmth, decency and dignity have survived.”
The Single Light (Library of Holocaust Testimonies) is published by Valentine Mitchell & Co and profits from the sales will go to Jewish Care Scotland and the Holocaust Educational Trust.
Click here to read the Jewish Telegraph report of the launch.