Balaam’s Prophecy by Naftali Lau-Lavie
Few books have moved me in the way that this book has. The author, the brother of the Ex Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Meir Lau gives a personal account of Jewish history starting prior to the 2nd World War and continuing to the late 1980’s.
The book starts with his personal account of the Holocaust and the author as a 14 year old boy in Buchenwald and Auschwitz Camps. It continues with the extraordinary rescuing of his younger Brother “Lulek” who goes on to become the Chief Rabbi of Israel.
The remainder of the book reveals in detail the politics and personal accounts of events that unfolded in the fledgling State of Israel, with particular reference to the years 1970-1989, the highlight being the signing of the Israeli-Egyptian Peace Accord between Begin and Sadat.
This book is a brilliant introduction into the mindset of all the key politicians world wide as regards the Jewish State with detailed discussion of Moshe Dayan, Menachem Begin and others.
Naftali Lau-Lavie ends the book with his days as a Consul-General of Israel in New York in which he gives an insight into the subject of American Jewry and the different agendas of Israel vs the Diaspora .
About the Author
Naftali Lau-Lavie was born in 1926 in Krakow, Poland. During the Holocaust he was imprisoned in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald.
Within a few months of his arrival in the Land of Israel after being liberated from Buchenwald, he joined the Hagana and spent almost all of the rest of his life in service to the state and the Jewish people.
He was among those who welcomed a shipload of illegal immigrants on the Herzliya beach; he was a Mossad operator; and he went to Europe to recruit fighters for the War of Independence, in which he served himself. After the war he worked for several newspapers, most notably for Haaretz, where he was military correspondent and later head of the news desk. He served as a spokesman for Moshe Dayan, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Shamir.
In 1981 he was appointed consul-general in New York and after his return home, he headed the Israel Office of the United Jewish Appeal.
He was also vice chairman of the World Jewish Restitution Organization, working tirelessly to learn what happened to Jewish properties that had been confiscated first by the Nazis and then by the communists and conducting negotiations with local and state governments, mostly in Eastern Europe.
On the 71st anniversary of his Bar Mitzvah, Lau-Lavie, together with members of his immediate family, returned to his hometown of Piotrkov in Poland, to once again be called up to the Torah. He prayed in the town where his father, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Lau, a renowned scholar of generations of rabbis, had been rabbi and where Lau had spent so many Sabbaths of his childhood.
The synagogue is now a public library, but former residents of Piotrkov had come from Israel, the United States, and England for a reunion and joined the Lau-Lavie family at Friday night dinner and at synagogue services. Lau-Lavie who had been in ill health in recent years, was already ailing at the time, but was determined to retrace his own and his father’s footsteps with his wife, Joan, and their children.
One of his greatest joys was seeing his brother, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, who had been entrusted into his care by their mother during the war, follow in their father’s footsteps and become a Chief Rabbi of Israel. They were the only two members of their family to survive.