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Rasputin and the Jews: A new history?

Rasputin And The Jews                                            http://www.jewishliteraryreview.com/2011/05/rasputin-and-the-jews-a-new-history/

In her new book, Delin Colón used the French memoirs of her great-great uncle to put forth an interesting argument for another reason why Grigory Rasputin might have been killed – his acceptance of Russia’s Jews.

Rasputin’s death is already the stuff of legend. It’s been said that he was tricked into ingesting enough poison to kill five men but remained unaffected. When that didn’t work, his murderers shot him four times, beat him, bound his body, wrapped him in a carpet and threw him into an icy river. He apparently broke free from the bindings and the carpet but drowned in the partially frozen waters.

By the time of his murder, Russia was in the throes of World War I and, with Tsar Nicholas II away at the front, Rasputin began exercising more and more influence over Tsaritsa Alexandra. As a longtime member of the royal court, he held considerable sway over her decisions and he even convinced her to fill several government posts with his handpicked candidates.

Meanwhile, many Russians blamed Rasputin and his influence on the royals for the country’s deteriorating economy. It also didn’t help that the war was not going well.

Now, in a slim 112-page book, Colón has put forth the notion that Rasputin’s advocacy on behalf of the country’s Jews contributed to his demise. The author says she’s spent a dozen years gathering the facts and first learned about Rasputin’s philo-Semitism by reading the memoirs of her great-great uncle, Aron Simanovitch, Rasputin’s Jewish secretary.

Here’s more:

This book is an account of Rasputin as a healer, equal rights activist and man of God, and why he was so vilified by the aristocracy that their libelous and slanderous rumors became accepted as history. For nearly a century, Grigory Rasputin, spiritual advisor to Russia’s last Tsar and Tsarina, has been unjustly maligned simply because history is written by the politically powerful and not by the common man. A wealth of evidence shows that Rasputin was discredited by a fanatically anti-Semitic Russian society, for advocating equal rights for the severely oppressed Jewish population, as well as for promoting peace in a pro-war era. Testimony by his friends and enemies, from all social strata, provides a picture of a spiritual man who hated bigotry, inequity and violence.

Sound interesting? Sure. I think this could open up even more argument over Rasputin’s life and, of course, his legendary death.

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THE TRUTH ABOUT RASPUTIN HELPING JEWS

 Sep.12.11 , In Book Reviews , by Israel Drazin

Rasputin and the Jews

A Reversal of History

By Delin Colon

CreateSpace, 2011, 110 pages

This eye-opening book relies on dozens of sources, people close to Rasputin, friends
and enemies, and reveals the truth about him. Delin Colon is the great-great
niece of Rasputin’s Jewish secretary.

Grigory Rasputin (born around 1870, died by assassination in 1916) was an uneducated,
nearly illiterate, but highly intelligent and very religious man. He made a
couple of pilgrimages to Israel. He was the spiritual advisor to Russia’s last
Tsar and Tsarina. He was unfairly vilified by the fanatically anti-Semitic
Russian society because, contrary to them, he advocated equal rights for all of
Russia’s citizens, including peasants, the poverty-stricken, and Jews; his
strong ethically-held anti-war views; and his opposition to the death penalty.
The distorted history by his detractors pictures this saintly man as hypnotizing
the Tsar and his wife and forcing them to obey his wishes. Actually, the Tsar
frequently refused to follow Rasputin’s advice.

Rasputin “took up the causes of the oppressed, sometimes receiving up to 200 people a
day.” He prayed with people and gave spiritual advice. He never took a penny
for his services. He was an empathic and herbal healer, a man of peace who
wanted to avoid war because he realized that it would result in millions of
deaths, including cruelty to enemy soldiers and civilians, and would lead to
the demise of his country. (Russia lost four million lives during World War I.)
His strongly-held views about equal rights for all people took no cognizance of
the person’s faith and background. He felt that “all religions were valuable
and were just different ways of understanding God.” He opposed the death
penalty because he was convinced that many condemned people were innocent.

Delin Colon describes in detail the terrible history of anti-Semitism and oppression of
Jews in Russia by all but one ruler since Peter the Great spread the fear and
paranoia about Jews during his rule from 1696 to 1725. He said that he’d rather
have Muslim in Russia than Jews. There were times when Jews were expelled from
Russia. Horrible restrictions were always placed upon them that affected every
aspect of life. There were many “pogroms,” state sponsored murders of Jewish
communities, where lives were lost and property confiscated.

Rasputin criticized these practices. “Instead
of organizing pogroms and accusing Jews of all evils, we would do better to
criticize ourselves.” In 1910, he took the side of 307 Jewish dentists who were
charged with becoming dentists only to avoid having to live in the pale, the
area the government insisted that Jews live. He saved them from being killed.
In 1913, he stood up for Mendel Bellis at the infamous “blood libel trial,”
where Jews were accused of killing Christians and using their blood when they
baked matzot for Passover. He helped Jewish children enter schools despite
restrictive quotas. He stopped some pogroms by alerting the Jewish community of
the intended attack. During World War I, he helped free a Jewish doctor from a
German prison. These are only several of the many humanitarian acts that Colon
describes in her book.

The Tsar brought Rasputin to his court in 1905 because he heard that Rasputin was a
mystical man, and the Tsar was very superstitious. He also heard that he was a
healer; and Rasputin later used herbs to stem the bleeding of the hemophiliac
son of the Tsar. However, the Tsar did not always listen to his advice. “When
the Tsar issued a manifesto promising autonomy to Poland, Rasputin encouraged
him to also grant equal rights to the Jews,” but the Tsar refused.  He recommended to the Tsar that despite the
vast profits that the government made from the sale of vodka, the Tsar shut
down these stores, because the drinking was unhealthy and the cause of misery
to the less fortunate classes, and the Tsar refused. He advocated
“expropriating land from the aristocracy, with compensation, and distributing
it among the peasants so that they could have food to eat and dignity, but the
Tsar refused.

What did the Tsar himself think of Rasputin? He said, “he’s simply a Russian, good,
religious, with a simple spirit; when in pain or doubt, I like to talk with him
and invariably, I feel at peace with myself.” When the Tsar heard that his
relatives had murdered Rasputin, he said, “I am filled with shame that the
hands of my kinsmen are stained with the blood of a simple peasant.”

Scholars have concluded that if Rasputin’s programs would have been adopted by the
misguided Tsar, they “would have been a viable means of averting the 1917
revolution.”

It is tragic that a person should be vilified because he sought to aid people, and
it is even more heartrending that all too many people accepted these lies as
true. We owe Delin Colon thanks for revealing the truth.

Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of seventeen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides. The Orthodox Union (OU) and Yeshiva University publish weekly chapters of Drazin and Wagner’s book Let’s Study Onkelos onwww.ou.org/torah and on www.yutorah@yutorah.org. His website is http://booksnthoughts.com.

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July 27, 2011 | 3:38 pm

A Make-Over for the Mad Monk

Posted by Jonathan Kirsch      http://www.jewishjournal.com/twelvetwelve/item/a_make-over_for_the_mad_monk_39110727/

Photo

Grigory Rasputin: Mad Monk or Friend of the Jews?

Almost every day, I am privileged to hear from authors who call my attention to their newly-published books.  But none of them claimed my attention quite as forcefully as Delin Colón, author of “Rasputin and the Jews: A Reversal of History.”

First, she is the great-great-grandniece of Aron Simanovitch, a Jewish man who served as the secretary to Grigory Rasputin himself. Second, she makes the audacious argument that the so-called “Mad Monk” was, in fact, “a healer, humanitarian, equal rights activist and man of God” as well as a benefactor of the Jewish people and a champion of oppressed women.

The conventional wisdom, of course, is that Rasputin, the priest who was spiritual advisor to the last tsar and tsarina of Russia, was a charismatic seducer who exercised an uncanny and unwholesome influence on the monarchs.  He is commonly depicted as an illiterate who loved to imbibe and refused to bathe, a compulsive ruiner of virgins who used his hypnotic powers and the privileges of the priesthood to carry out his seductions.

His moral crimes aside, however, it was his reputed interference in matters of state that prompted a gang of Russian aristocrats to murder him.  Rasputin was famously hard to kill — he survived a massive dose of poison, several gunshots, and a brutal beating before finally drowning when his battered body was sunk in the Neva, or so goes the stories that have long been told about him.

Colón rejects “the outrageous rumors perpetrated by a bigoted, small-minded, self-absorbed society,” including the “debauchery, sins, or crimes” that were commonly charged against him.  She is wholly uninterested in the Grand Guignol that accompanied his murder. She is more interested in what Rasputin did in life.

“The people Rasputin helped – the underdogs of society, the Jews, peasants, and poverty-stricken were not in a position to speak up or even to be believed,” she insists. “The long perpetuated image of Rasputin is of a man who committed evil for the sake of evil alone.  Naturally, the largely anti-Semitic aristocracy would think it evil to champion the cause of the oppressed Russian peasants and especially the Jews.”

Among her sources is the memoir of her own distant relative, Rasputin’s personal secretary, and she concedes that his account has been impugned by historians “due to the inclusion in his memoirs of bizarre court gossip and exaggeration of his own importance in the court.”  But she insists that his regard for Rasputin is supported by the historical record, and she makes an earnest and plausible case in the pages of her book that he was not the monster that his enemies made him out to be.

Russian history provides us with enough real monsters to make even the storybook version of Rasputin seem like nothing more than a villain out of melodrama. According to Colón, however, he was not even that.

Copies of “Rasputin and the Jews” are available for purchase at Amazon.com

Jonathan Kirsch, author and publishing attorney, is the book editor of The Jewish Journal. He can be reached at http://www.jewishjournal.com/twelvetwelve.

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Author Rabbi Joshua Chasan states:
“The historian John Lukas speaks of history as the remembered past.  Delin Colón characterizes her book Rasputin and the Jews as A Reversal of History.  What she attempts to do is correct the widely held view of Rasputin as an evil man who committed the worst debaucheries, substituting instead a view of Rasputin as a humanitarian, a courageous defender of Jews and other people vulnerable in pre-revolutionary Russia.  She identifies the sources of the negative views of Rasputin, making a good case for the need for us to see that there are a lot of ways of remembering the past.

At a time when George Orwell’s prophesy of the world of 1984 rings very true, Ms. Colón does us all a great service in showing how false stories take on the face of truth and become our understanding of the history of a certain time and place.  Aside from being a good read and an important contribution to Russian and Jewish history, Rasputin and the Jews prompts the reader to delve into her or his own personal memories, to consider and reconsider how they were shaped, why, and even by whom?”

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Winter books: Books in brief

Diana Brement • JTNews Columnist
Posted: November 16, 2011

Rasputin and the Jews: A Reversal of History, by Delin Colón (independent, paper, $15 at Amazon). As the infamous adviser to Tsar Nicholas II, Rasputin’s perceived main fault may have been his belief in human equality, including for the Jews, and his anti-war stance. These views were reviled by the Russian aristocracy in a time of warmongering and feverish anti-Semitism. As for Rasputin’s prophetic powers, Colón writes, “it does not take a psychic to foresee that the extreme oppression of a large population will…lead to agitation and revolution.” This book becomes a short course on revolutionary Russian history and gets gold stars as an example of a well-produced self-published book.

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Rasputin And The Jews, A Reversal Of History Reviewed By Janet Walker of Bookpleasures.com

Janet WalkerReviewer Janet Walker: Janet  is the writer of the ebook: Colour To Die For, first of the Fee Weston Mystery Series. Janet lives in Australia and when she is not writing about P.I. Fee Weston’s fight for truth, justice and a livable cash flow, she writes articles for magazines and fundraises for Australia’s wildlife carers – heroes of the bush. For more about Janet and Fee visit Janet’s WEBSITEISBN : 978-1461027751
Delin Colón, author of Rasputin And The Jews, has, by her own admission, written a small book (110 pages); a small book with a very big aim – reverse history by revealing the truth about the treatment of Jewish people in Russia during the reign of Tsar Nicholas II and the part Rasputin played in alleviating their suffering under a regime committed to anti-semitic repression and genocidal practices.

Racial prejudice, whether because of race, creed or colour is not new to the recorded history of the world – since time immemorial, corrupt inept governments have attempted to mask greed and oppression by attributing blame to groups (most particularly Jewish communities) within their sphere of control.

The popular press depicts the last of the Romanov Tsars, Nicholas II, as a loving family man; a whiter than white ruler who was unfortunate enough to be reigning over Russia at a time of great political upheaval. Conversely, Grigory Efimovich Rasputin, spiritual advisor to the Tsar and Tsarina and psychic healer to their haemophiliac son, is depicted as a corrupt, blacker than black lecher, who by his evil actions and control of  Tsar Nicholas, singlehandedly caused the 1917 Russian Revolution and the subsequent execution of the royal family.

Historical truth can be distorted; bad guys are whitewashed and good guys blackened to hide the criminal activities of powerful forces. It’s a matter of importance that Delin Colón’s research on Rasputin’s life and the reign of Tsar Nicholas II is supported by page footnote references and at the back of the book, a bibliography of source material. The great, great niece of Aron Simanovitch, Jewish jeweler and secretary to Rasputin, she devotes the first chapters of the book to documenting laws governing the life of a Russian Jew under Tsar Nicholas. Restrictions ranged from petty, mean minded intimidation with regard to residence, occupation and education to twenty five years compulsory conscription in the Russian army and the extreme danger of segregation in government enforced settlements – military and para-military groups regularly ransacked Jewish communities, wholesale slaughter of the inhabitants often occurring. These pogroms were carried out either at the behest of Tsar Nicholas or with his approval.

The author presents the facts in a clear dispassionate style. There is no attempt at sensationalism or embellishment. The daily frustrations and privations endured by Jewish people in Russia between the last part of the nineteenth century and the assassination of Rasputin in 1916 makes fascinating if horrific reading and there were times when I would have liked the author to expand on the facts by giving a glimpse of the ‘bigger picture’ of Russian life surrounding the historical period. Perhaps Delin Colón will draw a wider picture of pre-revolutionary Russia in another book.

The text moves on to Rasputin’s awareness of the Jewish people’s systematic victimization at all levels of Russian society and his attempts to redress the wrongs done to them by acting as an emissary on their behalf with Tsar Nicholas. This fell on deaf ears as Nicholas II was a lifelong anti-semitic, his fervent desire being to deport or murder all Jews in Russia. Rasputin never gave up his attempts to change the Tsar’s hatred of Jews, advising him many times that the demonization of Russian Jews would eventually lead to disaster for the Romanov dynasty.

Loved by Jews and Russian peasants, Rasputin helped overcome the injustices suffered by those least able to help themselves – bribery, rife at all levels of society, often saved or released a Jew from prison, promises of audiences with aristocrats or Tsar Nicholas was another means he used to allow Jews or peasants to enjoy basic human rights of education, employment and a roof over their head. Whenever possible he alerted Jewish communities to planned pogroms and was sometimes able to halt the murderous rampages.

Reviled and feared by the upper classes, Rasputin wasn’t a saint; only a good man who believed all men were equal before god or anyone else, for that matter. You really should read Rasputin And The Jews for an insight into the life of this amazing man – born to a peasant family he became a psychic healer, political visionary and major player at the court of Tsar Nicholas II while still retaining his humble origin and love of family life.

I liked this book; it’s a significant addition to the literature written about the one of the furthest reaching events of the twentieth century – the Russian Revolution.   

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Rasputin and the Jews: A Reversal of History Reviewed By John Cowans of Bookpleasures.com

John CowansReviewer John Cowans: John was a University, College, and School English teacher for over 40 years, John Cowans now lives in retirement in Chester., Nova Scotia.It is common knowledge that history is written not by the losers of battles but by the winners; similarly the downtrodden are rarely the chroniclers of revolutions and social upheaval. Until the publication of Delin Colon’s Rasputin and the Jews: A Reversal of History, Grigory Rasputin, spiritual advisor to Russia’s last Tsar and Tsarina, had been regarded as a disreputable mystic whose hold on the Russian Royal Family was largely due to his apparent healing powers which he exercised over young Alexei, the Tsarevitch, who suffered from hemophilia. For example, in a recent autobiography written by one close to the British Royal Family, Rasputin is referred to as ‘that degenerate mystic‘ Who better to set matters right than Delin Colón, a great-great niece of Aron Simanovitch (Rasputin’s Jewish secretary).
Ms Colon has worked as a technical writer for Sociological Abstracts and started a company which matched technical and creative writers with writing jobs. Intrigued by the memoirs of her great-great uncle, she has spent the last dozen years researching his claims that Rasputin was maligned primarily due to his support of the Russian Jewish community. Colón is retired and lives with her photographer husband in the Pacific Northwest, where she continues to write.

The Russian aristocracy during the reign of Tsar Nicholas II were largely anti-Semitic and were opposed to anyone who would champion the cause of the oppressed peasants and especially the Jews who they blamed for lost battles and eventually for the downfall of the Romanov Empire. Delin Colon points out in this excellent little history that the downtrodden, the underdogs of society, were the very people that Rasputin helped, thus bringing disrepute upon his own head. Most records of his good works were destroyed by his allies to avoid prosecution. But there are some incidents recorded of Rasputin helping the Jews; he pleaded their cases with the Tsar on many occasions; he interceded in legal cases including one famous case where 300 dentists were imprisoned. He regularly petitioned the Tsarina to allow Jewish students to attend university, to allow performances in the Yiddish theatre, and to free those who had been summarily imprisoned.

He made many recommendations to the Tsar on behalf of the poor and the peasants, but these requests usually fell on deaf ears. Rasputin was also a popular preacher and so the clergy were jealous of him and spread rumors about him. It has been suggested that had Rasputin been listened to, had for instance the Tsar allowed the nobility to sell land to the peasants for the purpose of farming thus creating a food supply for the poor, perhaps the

Revolution could have been avoided, but that was not to be.

For anyone interested in this particular period in history, this book is a must . It is well written and suitably documented and hence is an worthy addition to historical scholarship.

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Endpaper Review

Celebrating Books, Reading and Writing

Rasputin’s Redemption

Posted: June 15, 2012 | Author: DICK LOFTIN | Filed under: Books | Tags: ,

They were not allowed to own or lease land. They were banned from certain occupations, denied education, and segregated to living in a restricted, ghetto-like area. They were blamed for crimes, wars, and espionage. From the time of Peter the Great into our recent history, they were persecuted, slaughtered, separated from their families. Women were forced into prostitution in order to study or teach. Parents would bribe teachers and headmasters to admit their children to schools. All of this because they were judged to be tricksters and cheats, they were said to be shrewd and skilled at gaining advantage over others. All of this because they were Jews.

One man, Grigory Efimovitch Rasputin, a spiritual advisor to the last Tsar and Tsarina of Russia, and believed by them to be a holy man, worked to correct these wrongs. His efforts misunderstood, his reputation and position in history tarnished by those more powerful than himself is the basis for the book, “Rasputin and the Jews: A Reversal of History,” by Delin Colon. Colon is the great-great niece of Aron Simanovitch, Rasputin’s Jewish secretary.

Before I read Ms. Colon’s book, I knew very little about Rasputin. After finishing this book of just over 100 pages, I was left wondering if there may be two Rasputin’s in history. One, a man of deep faith, whose only concern was for his fellow man, who used his position of influence with the Tsar of Russia to try to help the less fortunate, particularly the Jews; or Two, a man who used religion as a tool for manipulation and to gain influence and favor for power, money and advantage. Either way, the conclusion is tragic, for Rasputin was assassinated in late December 1916, and the reign of Tsar Nicholas II ended with his death and that of the Romonov family in July 1918.

Who is this man who some say was a “devil-like figure,” and “The Mad Monk?” Colon’s book hopes to redeem the reputation of Rasputin, which she believes has been tarnished  in books and movies throughout history.

Rasputin became known a healer, helping people with migraine headaches and other illnesses through prayer and the laying of hands. His reputation for healing became known to the Romanov family who sought help for young Alexei Romanov. Alexei suffered from hemophilia, a disease in which the blood is unable to clot, which can result in severe, unstoppable bleeding from something as simple as a cut. It would be of little consequence to most, but could be fatal for someone with the illness. The boy would bruise easily, causing internal bleeding and severe pain. When Rasputin entered the family’s lives in 1905, he was able to help the boy relax (some say through hypnosis) and allow his body to heal. Rasputin won the Tsar’s and the family’s confidence, with the Tsar referring to him as a “holy man” and “our friend.”

While Rasputin gained influence with the royal family, he was not entirely welcomed by the Russian elite. He was often accused of sexual misconduct and was said to have spent three months in a Monastery for theft as a teenager. Rasputin dismissed the sexual misconduct charges and the theft charges are noted only as a “possibility” in other source materials.

Whatever influence Rasputin may or may not have had over the royal family, his passion for human rights and the equal treatment of others is clear. He repeatedly councils the Tsar on human rights issues related to the Jews at a time in history when it was not popular to do so. Rasputin would not let human rights issues rest, and continued to work to remedy the problem to the end of his life.

Colon writes:

            “Although Rasputin was said to have psychic capabilities, and many

            of his predictions did come true, it does not take a psychic to forsee

            that the extreme oppression of a large population will eventually lead

            to agitation and revolution. Rasputin’s politics, simple and naïve as

            they were, had the goal of providing plenty for the masses. Had the

            Tsar followed Rasputin’s advice of equal rights, peace, and oppor-

            tunities for all, revolution may well have been avoided.”

Rasputin also sympathized with the rights of women, giving them attention and consideration, which may have lead to the accusations of sexual impropriety, but the books states that Rasputin had relations with “women of all social classes.” “I speak to them, and they feel better,” Rasputin is quoted as saying.

The Tsar sought, and Rasputin offered, advice regarding social issues, cabinet appointments, saving the monarchy and other issues of the period. The Tsar would consider Rasputin’s advice, but would not always follow it. Once the appointees were in office, they would often back away from positions they promised to keep.

I have read several pieces written about Rasputin on the internet and watched many video clips, including a complete biography of Rasputin’s life.  One piece I read of the life of Tsar Nicholas II, barely mentions Rasputin beyond the help he offered to Tsesarevich Alexei Romanov. And it specifically notes Alexandra wholeheartedly believed in Rasputin’s powers and “for the rest of her life she would defend him and turn her wrath against anyone who dared to question him.” For me, this is a powerful statement in support of Rasputin.

In the end, Rasputin is murdered, and months later the Tsar and his family are slain.

Many historians today believe Rasputin to be a scapegoat and so much of the story of Rasputin is puzzling. Was he the “Mad Monk?” Rasputin was certainly a controversial figure in history, and in “Rasputin and the Jews: A Reversal of History,” Delin Colon continues the discussion and brings some clarity to the story of Grigory Efimovitch Rasputin.

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