As a boy growing up in a small Jewish shtetl in southern Poland, Leon Wells was part of a large and warm family whose strong religious faith provided the focus for all aspects of life. Then came the Nazi takeover of Poland that forever destroyed that life. Wells begins this poignant memoir by recounting in loving detail the daily life of the shtetl, focusing on the celebration of Yom Kippur in the years before the Nazi occupation. Much of his gift to readers lies in the wealth of memories of a now-vanished way of life and the good and gentle people who lived it. But Wells's theme is a darker one: "What was was and is no more". By recalling the Yom Kippurs of his years of war, imprisonment, lonely wandering, and eventual settlement in America, he demonstrates the progressive losses of all he held dear: not only his mother, his father, his sisters and brothers, and all seventy members of his extended family but also his religious faith. Reared in an atmosphere of unquestioning adoration of God, Wells found that everything in his subsequent life refuted that belief. Alone, his life and hopes shattered, he was left to endure a lifelong quarrel with the God who had abandoned him and his people. This is a questioning memoir that makes an important contribution to the literature of the Holocaust. It is also a story of the passage of a young boy through the fires of Hell and his emergence from the ashes with an almost unbearable burden of disillusion and occasional anger. Wells draws discomforting parallels between the exclusive "chosenness" of the Children of Israel and the same claims made by the Aryan "master race". The result is a moving work that disturbs through its questioning, even asit informs through its evocation of a way of life vanished in the whirlwind.