“History”, says author Delin Colón, great-great niece of Aron Simanovitch, Rasputin’s Jewish secretary. “is written by the powerful not the oppressed”.
Therefore, when we think of Grigory Efimovitch Rasputin, we recall his historical reputation as a rogue, a criminal, and an evil man who was often thought to be responsible for the ultimate downfall of the Russian Romanov Empire. Colón disputes this theory in her concise and factual historical account, Rasputin and The Jews: A Reversal of History.
Colón’s theory is demonstrated by numerous facts and statements made by the people that were closest to Rasputin. His friend and secretary, Simonovitch, writes memoirs that describe Rasputin as a man of God, a healer and a helper for all Russian citizens, despite their religion or class distinction. The oppression of Jews in Russia began from the very beginning of Judaism itself. Persecution, restrictions and expulsion was part of Russian history. Only a handful of Russian Jews were allowed education or entry into the trades. They were limited as to where they could reside and what occupation they might follow. And although history paints Rasputin a champion of persecution, according to Colón, he was a great humanitarian and a man of the people.
Through the eyes of Rasputin’s daughter, Marya, we get a first-hand depiction of what life was like with her father and his noble intentions. A natural healer with a gift of hands on curatives, even his adversaries admitted to believing in his somewhat mystical powers. Rasputin felt his healing powers did not come from himself, but directly from God.
Although barely literate and uneducated, Rasputin had an innate intelligence and a deeply intuitive understanding of Russia, its aspirations and, especially of its people. Often unkempt and burly, his presence did not equate to his abilities. But from the statements and historical documents presented by Colón, even without an in-depth knowledge of Russian history, we can begin to understand how and why such a man might be painted a dark character when in fact he was the light and life of his people.
Rasputin and the Jews is a beautifully written gem to be read and savored by readers interested in Jewish and/or Russian history.
Reviewed by Peggy La Vake for IndieReader