A year after the end of World War II, a group of rabbis living in displaced-persons (DP) camps approached military officials and asked for help in publishing an edition of the Talmud that could be distributed among DPs. The Army—encouraged, no doubt, by President Truman’s letter to Eisenhower stating that the U.S. had a special duty toward Holocaust survivors—consented. Lily Rothman writes:
[This] is considered to be the only edition of the Talmud . . . ever printed by a national government. It is known as the Survivors’ Talmud. . . .
[The] title page depicts a barbed-wire fenced camp as well as the Mediterranean landscape of the holy land, and [bears] these words: “From bondage to freedom, from darkness to a great light.” . . .
The Survivors’ Talmud stemmed from reasons both practical and symbolic. Not only had the Nazis taken the homes, lives, and livelihoods of the Jewish people of Europe, but they had also destroyed the artifacts of the religion. Just when many survivors felt they needed their faith or their culture more than ever, the sacred texts of Judaism were hard to come by.