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HOLD ON TO THE ROPE!
“Before Moshiach comes, Hashem will stretch a rope from one end of the world to the other and shake it vigorously…. These turbulent times are testing our faith in Hashem. We must hold on tightly until the end.”
The Chofetz Chaim
“The time has come for someone to stand up and tell it like it is. Rabbi Neuberger could be accused of making some people feel uncomfortable, but every word he speaks is truth. The message is important, even to the most observant of Jews.”
Rabbi Yitzchak Berkovits
“The author of the widely acclaimed From Central Park to Sinai and 2020 Vision has now penned perhaps his most important work yet… Passionate, powerful and thought-provoking.”
Rabbi Eytan Feiner
“Clear, concise, exciting, and, most important, rooted in Torah sources.”
Rabbi Yaakov Feitman
Nissan Tovey –
Like many of my fellow People of the Book, I enjoy reading. When a friend recently gave me a copy of Roy Neuberger’s newest offering, “Hold On: Surviving the Days Before Moshiach,” I surprised myself by reading through it in one sitting. I’d heard Roy’s name before, but I was not familiar with his background; after reading Hold On, I felt that I had to meet the author in person. A quick phone call was all it took to receive a warm invitation to the Neuberger home.
When I met with Roy (Yisroel) and Leah Neuberger last week in their lovely home in Jerusalem, the first thing that struck me was their warmth and banter. Well into his eighth decade, Roy has a special energy about him, in an almost mischievous way; Leah, a true ezer k’negdo, counters that with her careful, aristocratic approach. And yes, she’s really an ezer k’negdo- Leah is the editor of all of Roy’s books. I’m instantly smiling as I am led into their living room and made to feel at home, and that’s when I notice the paintings on the walls. They’re large, they are beautiful, and tucked among them I see a framed photograph of the revered Rabbi Avrohom Pam zt’l laughing aloud while sitting opposite a younger Roy Neuberger, whose arms are raised in gesticulation. The photograph piques my curiosity… and that’s where our story begins.
Roy S. Neuberger is well-known in the Jewish world as an author and thinker. It wasn’t always like this; until he was in his early thirties, Roy had no inkling of what Judaism was about. Growing up in a wholly assimilated, wealthy Upper-East-Side family – Roy’s father was Roy Rothschild Neuberger, who founded the Wall Street firm of Neuberger Berman – Roy’s family celebrated December twenty-fifth in true American secular fashion, with stockings stuffed with gifts hanging from the mantel, and with a secular humanist approach to life. It was a pampered life, but it was a life of deep emptiness inside. Roy tried to fill that void with meaning by volunteering for the usual causes du jour, but the frail set of values that he lived by always seemed to collapse upon deep reflection. He had a beacon of hope at his side, though; he married Linda Villency, of the similarly assimilated former Vilensky family, when they were both young. As he still says wonderingly, she always supported him, always tolerated his constant quest for meaning.
Roy has always been a thinker, and he believed himself to be logical. The one thing that Roy had never allowed to enter his equation was G-d. Never, until one day in 1966.
Most human beings seem to be contented coasting through life without thinking about their true purpose. It’s easier to focus on dealing with day-to-day issues such as health, income, and moving up the corporate ladder. That did not work for the younger Neubergers. They had it all financially, they were in good health, and they had each other- and life was still miserable.
At a crucial moment in their marriage (they were at the University of Michigan at the time) Roy reached a point at which either he would crash emotionally or he would have to get outside his current worldview. During the night of January 10, 1966 in Ann Arbor, Michigan his old world collapsed and he found that there was nothing left except … G-d!
At this moment, everything changed for Roy and Linda. All of a sudden, there was hope!
He had not yet found Hakadosh Baruch Hu in the Jewish sense, but he did realize there had to be a Higher Being and a higher purpose in life. And so began an eight-year exploration into Eastern religions and then Christian denominations- an exploration that ended with the conclusion that all these belief systems were lacking and were based on innate falsehoods. Perhaps the religion of his forefathers, the very religion that his secular, ethical education had taught him to view as primitive and out of touch- could offer some answers?
We Torah Jews do not believe in chance, and it was certainly not by chance that Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis decided to take up the invitation of a congregation in Newburgh, New York and to come and speak about Yiddishkeit. It was a three-hour drive each way for a one-hour talk, and it was the height of the 1973-1974 energy crisis when filling one’s gas tank could mean a three-hour wait, but something caused the Rebbetzin to say “yes.”
Roy and Linda, who at that time owned and published a newspaper in a nearby community, heard about the talk and decided to invest an hour of their time. This fateful decision would change their lives forever.
Rebbetzin Jungreis spoke with passion and a clarity of conviction that was like cold water in the desert to the Neubergers’ thirsty souls. The connection they formed with the Jungreis Family was to lead them to join a frum community in Long Island, where the Rebbetzin’s husband was rabbi. They dedicated themselves fully to becoming true Torah Jews.
Avraham Avinu discovered G-d at age three; his great-grandson, Roy S. Neuberger, discovered G-d at age thirty-one.
Roy is a very bright man. After some years of study, he was offered the position of general studies principal at a New York yeshiva; he has been a hedge fund manager, a National Park ranger and a newspaper publisher. More than all those, however, he has been a man with a message, and with the talented pen of a master of English literature and the pithy wit of a newspaperman, he has made his pen his sword- or perhaps a machete, slicing through the jungle of confusion that prevents so many of us from becoming closer to Hashem.
I was amazed by Roy’s courageous openness in his first book, From Central Park to Sinai, which led the Jewish bestseller lists for months following its publication. It is the engaging story of a person who has everything and realizes that he has nothing; yet rather than immerse himself in the destructive swamp of a modern Olam Hazeh, he searches for and finds meaning. It is not only the personal discovery that is so meaningful. It is the hashgacha pratis, the constant hand of G-d so apparent at every turn, that makes one catch one’s breath and say “Wow!”.
The publication of Roy’s first book was not easy. The manuscript was perceived by some frum publishing houses as being geared to general audiences; while non-Jewish publishing houses found it too parochial. When the Neubergers were finally offered a publishing deal by a small Jewish publishing house, Roy asked Rav Avrohom Pam, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, for counsel and blessing. When the Rosh Yeshiva heard of the ‘coincidences’ that led to the choice of publisher, he could not help but laugh out loud, adding his warmest bracha, a bracha which has certainly panned out!
Hold On (published by Mosaica Press; distributed by Feldheim) is a different kind of read. It is still Roy at his best; humorous, insightful, persistent, unwilling to whitewash the facts. Put simply, Roy is concerned, and he shares his concern with the reader. If From Central Park to Sinai told the story of the path that was, Hold On sets out the path that must be.
The title is taken from a statement by the saintly Chofetz Chaim, regarding chevlei Moshiach, the difficult period before Moshiach’s arrival: “Before the arrival of Moshiach, Hashem will stretch a rope across the world and shake it up violently. The only way to survive will be to hold on to the rope with all one’s strength.”
Though we are dedicated Torah Jews, we are still susceptible to the foibles and changing values of the Western society in which we live and participate. We tend to push ideas like the end of days and Moshiach’s imminent arrival to some hazy, future time. Roy masterfully points out the corollary between our times and the days preceding Yetzias Mitzrayim, when four-fifths (at a minimum!) of the Jewish nation refused to accept the coming exodus, preferring to remain in their position in Egyptian culture and life, as difficult as they had it at the bottom of the barrel as lowly slaves. These four-fifths died in Egypt; they did not see the miracles to come, their souls were not present at Sinai, and they were lost to the destiny of the Jewish People.
As uncomfortable as the thought may be, Roy asks, are some of us in that place right now? World events are tumultuous, even frightening; madmen develop weapons of mass destruction as novel illnesses shut borders. Broken social mores have become the ‘new normal’. What can we do to ‘Hold On’? I found this book to be an inspiring guide, deeply rooted in our unchanging mesora, to making it through.
I ask Roy about his feelings about inspiring others. He smiles as he responds. “One thing I learned along my own path is that you can go through a life filled with sources of inspiration without becoming inspired. At the dawn of our history as a nation, every person in the world was aware of Yetzias Mitzrayim; yet only Yisro chose to take inspiration, to change his own life and join the destiny of the Jewish People.
“Right now we are standing at a crossroads. Moshiach ben Dovid must be close, and the perfect world of the Bais Hamikdosh. If we ‘Hold On,’ we will see it all with our own eyes!”
Robin Meyerson –
I recently had the incredible fortune to speak with Mr. Roy S. Neuberger, the author
of many books, including 2020 Vision, (Feldheim Publishers) a novel which starts
out on the 5th of July in the not-too-distant future. It was a day like any other, until
the unthinkable occurred.
Set in the days and weeks that follow a global terror attack, 2020 Vision takes you
on a daring and unforgettable journey as a group of Jewish survivors trek through
the chaos, pursuing their hope of reaching Israel. As they get closer to their
destination, the dangers intensify, until the book reaches its spellbinding climax.
It is a compelling novel that not only confronts the concerns and challenges of our
times, but offers readers a glorious vision of faith and hope in the future. 2020 Vision
gives you something to think about …as it keeps you on the edge of your seat!
It was published in 2008, yet it’s all about today and must be read today!
Amazingly, the day I interviewed Mr. Neuberger, July 5, 2020, was the actual day
when the whole story began in his book.
Roy is the author of five books. His wife, Leah, is his first editor. Since the publication
of Roy’s first book, they have spoken together at hundreds of locations in fifteen
When Roy wrote 2020 Vision, he had seen these things coming for decades. Even
when he was a child, he had these feelings. He became observant as an adult
because he felt when he was young he had nothing to hang on to … no Torah and
no G-d. He realized that the only way to have a happy and fulfilling life was through
Twelve years after he wrote 2020 Vision, he is in shock that, in the year 2020, the
world is unfolding in a very similar way to his novel. It is truly amazing! People come
up to him on the street and say “Hey, it’s 2020 and it’s happening now! Mr. 2020!”
And yet the title was difficult to come up. He had gone through dozens of titles, but
when you get the right one then its sounds so right. And how did he come up with
the title for 2020 Vision? Leah woke up one morning and said “The story is going to
happen in the year 2020, and the title is 2020 Vision!” It's a brilliant title; it's a triple
pun: the year is 2020; 2020 means “perfect vision” and it’s a kind of vision, because
you seem to see what is about to happen.
It is amazing how much of the book is coming to pass:
1. U.S. and western culture is turned upside down by unprecedented
2. Jews are unable to get to Israel
3. Airlines are not flying
4. Even El Al is not flying
5. And Israel is not letting people in
6. The book is happening in real life
7. There is even a virus in the book
8. Whatever you want to call the present social unrest in the USA, the
practical effect is similar to a massive terror attack. The unrest is
9. The very basis of the book – the chaotic conditions and the desire of
the Jews to get to Israel and they are unable to do so — is really
happening and it is 2020
10. The book ends with the sound of the Great Shofar. Everyone ends up
in Jerusalem and its clear to me that this is what we are experiencing
Since 2020 Vision was so spot on, it behooves us to check out Mr. Neuberger’s new
book out this year, Hold On! Surviving the Days before Moshiach (Mosaica
In this book he shouts out to the world and is very straightforward in the most
responsible and palatable way. It is such a positive and uplifting book to surviving
Coronavirus and all the craziness of today’s world. He compares what Jews are
going through today to the plagues in Biblical Egypt. Back then (which reflects
conditions today) a large majority of Jewish people did not choose to go with Moses
out of Egypt. In fact, it was only one in five Jews who left Egypt (and some
commentators say only 1 in 5000)!
In Hold On, the message is loud and clear; “Hello everybody! Wake up!” In Egypt,
the vast majority of Jews did not pay attention to Moses. They were caught up in
Egyptian culture like so many are caught up in Western Culture today. The Torah is
replayed in the future. With what is going on in the world today, the status quo is not
going to work anymore. We can be very comfortable in the culture of the Western
world, yet If you want to be there for the future you need to rethink your values. Yet
very few people are seeing this reality.
Hold On is a book that has a very positive message of hope. It is possible to get
through all this and be together in Israel and meet up in person. Let’s all hope it will
be very soon!