The Parnas: A Scene from the Holocaust
“The psychiatrist’s insight and storyteller’s skill offer an absorbing tale.”—Elie Wiesel
“A work of art.”—The New York Times Book Review
“A book to read again and again with the same piety with which it has been written.”—Primo Levi
The Parnas recreates the final days of Giuseppe Pardo Roques, the lay leader, or parnas, of the Sephardic Jewish community of Pisa, Italy, who was killed in his home by the Nazis in August, 1944. Pardo was a mentor to the author, and, indeed, he was a figure adored and celebrated not only by the Jews of Pisa but by the Christians as well. He was learned and generous, but he was also profoundly phobic. Animals terrified him: so much so that he almost never left his house--except to go to the synagogue --for fear of encountering stray dogs or cats. At the outbreak of World War II, Arieti fled to America where he became a renown psychiatrist. But the parnas, despite a wealth of connections that could have helped him escape, was too phobic to flee Pisa. On the morning of August 1, 1944, Nazi soldiers, searching for Pardo's fabled riches, entered his home. The soldiers found neither gold nor silver, but they did find the parnas, along with six fellow Jews whom he was sheltering and five Christian neighbors. All were murdered. In The Parnas, Arieti imagines what took place in the home, and in the mind, of this devout, kindly, and tormented man in the last days of his life providing, in the process, an overview of Italian Jewry. Arieti hopes to show "that tragic times have a perfume of their own, and smiles of hope, and traces of charm, and offer olive branches and late warnings that may not be too late."
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The Parnas: A Scene from the HolocaustUser Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
"Arieti's account demonstrates an important principle of emotional dynamics: mental illness may provide in some individuals a constructive focus for noble and selfless actions," said LJ's reviewer of ... Read full review