September 5, 2009

A Prayer for Gershon Levin

A Prayer for Gershon Levin
M. K. Moulton


(September 5, 2009)

The American Nazi party is marching in Skokie, gathering steam and frightening the neighbors. When Gershon Levin, a pious survivor of the camps, is found dead by cyanide poisoning, the police call it suicide, his rabbi reluctantly agrees, but his friends and neighbors and his energetic Israeli brother Uri team up to figure out what really happened. Moulton believes the Nazis to be a real and specific threat, not mere sad kooks, and she makes the argument with force and conviction in this engaging mystery. I worry that this excuses Christianist Republicans who believe in the same things and pursue the same methods but use a new logo. The Republicans have better resources, more money, and their own television network. Just as worrying, the story is weighed at the outset by buckets of exposition reviewing the outlines of the Holocaust; I’d have said, “Everyone knows this,” but Moulton’s long career as a history teacher (I was once her student) doubtless gave her reason to conclude they do not.