“And Every Single One Was Someone” by Phil Chernofsky— A Book of One Word

and every single one

Chernofsky, Phil. “And Every Single One Was Someone”, Geffen Publishing, 2014.

A Book of One Word

Amos Lassen

I must admit that the article in the New York Times was influential in my getting a copy of this book. The idea for it came about when Phil Chernovsky, a math and Jewish studies teacher in a Jewish day school wanted to find a way to have his students relate to the Holocaust. It is very difficult for all of us to take in the murder of 6,000,000 people. In fact, it is difficult to imagine 6,000,000 of anything. It was from this that this book evolved—a book of only one word but that word—“Jew”—is printed 6,000,000 times. This is not a book to be read; rather it is for libraries and presentations on the Holocaust and it is really an attempt to show what 6,000,000 looks like.

There is no plot and no character development and if there were characters this is the end of the road. The book contains 1,250 pages and each page has 40 columns of 120 lines or 4,800 Jews per page and any one of them could be one of us. On the cover is the talit, the prayer shawl that is sometimes used to wrap the dead; to serve as a shroud. The original plan of the publisher was to print 6,000,000 copies. Each copy is 2.76 inches wide and they would fill 261 miles of bookshelves or about 2 miles less than Israel from north to south.

and everyone1

In his review, Chris Roberts wrote:

“Repetition drives inextricably…

Toward the larger whole…

And strips each Jew…

Of his or her infinitely…

More important singularity…

One victim is the start of inhumanity…

The last one is its end”…

We cannot allow ourselves to ever forget that we are one and that one word is sometimes enough. The idea for the book and the way it is laid out is brilliant and the idea of “every single one” reminds us of the victims that are remembered and those that are left out of the 6,000,000 knowing that not only Jews were exterminated.

Of course there are always naysayers and if you go to the Amazon.com page of the book you will find this insensitive review by someone named Christina Parent:

“What a stupid idea., January 26, 2014

This book is so dense with difficult terminology, and there are no chapters, not recommended for the faint of heart or those easily disturbed by graphic images”.

I certainly hope that she is being sarcastic otherwise she should be totally embarrassed by such an insensitive remark that only shows that she did not see the book and has a sick sense of humanity. I do not see the Holocaust as a vehicle for sarcasm.