BY: FERN SIDMAN
Author: Roy S. Neuberger
“In the End of Days, after the Children of Israel have returned to their land, the children of Ishmael and the children of Esau will unite to attack Jerusalem. They will form a world coalition against the tiny nation of Israel. But something will go wrong with their plan. The religious beliefs of the children of Ishmael and the children of Esau will clash, and the two nations will collide and destroy each other. That is what is referred to as the War of Gog and Magog. Following this cataclysmic conflict, the Final Redemption of the Jewish people will occur with the coming of Messiah, the son of King David.” Rabbi Meir Leib ben Yechiel Michel (1808-1879), also known as The Malbim on Sefer Yechezkel (32:17)
With this prescient insight in mind does prolific author Roy (Yisroel) Neuberger begin weaving a tale predicated on the hallmarks of Jewish tradition; faith and trust in Hashem and the yearning for the Final Redemption. His recently released futuristic novel entitled, “2020 Vision” represents an authentic testament to the strength and resolve of the human spirit in the face of horrific adversities and tribulations. Yet, the resounding theme of faith and trust in Hashem and adherence to tenets of Torah against all odds have been an oft repeated mantra in Mr. Neuberger’s previous writings as it permeates the pages of “From Central Park to Sinai: How I Found My Jewish Soul” (2000); his personal memoirs and recollections of his journey back to Orthodox Judaism and “Worldstorm: Finding Meaning & Direction Amidst Today’s World Crisis” (2003); a history book that applies Torah reasoning to our current global situation.
While “2020 Vision” is a novel and thus symbolic of a departure from his non-fiction books, this action packed, thrill-a-minute tale retains a keen eye on the very real and often grim geo-political realities of our times. There is no question that this book can be termed a hybrid of sorts, combining compelling fiction with true to life, refreshingly honest biographical flashbacks that allow the reader a unique opportunity to get an intimate look into the psyche of the protagonist and author of this novel. While enjoying this fast paced page turner, readers should be cautioned to fasten their proverbial seatbelts because this is going to be the mother of all bumpy rides.
The trajectory of this apocalyptic sojourn begins on Sunday, July 5th in the year 2020. It is a leisurely summer day and Yisroel and his wife Leah are enjoying the simple pleasures of life at their Long Island home; a bike ride, sipping cool lemonade, watching the fireworks and taking some time to reflect on the many blessings in their lives. This was to be the last day on this earth that the Neubergers would experience a semblance of normalcy. Quite suddenly and totally out of nowhere the world is caught in the deadly grip of a global nuclear attack; planned and coordinated by diabolical Muslim terrorist sleeper cells in the USA. The world outside their window “turned white” and their “house shook violently” while the sounds of sonic booms punctuated the air. As the author ruefully observes, “the events of July 5, 2020 made 9/11 look like child’s play.”
After listening to a report on an emergency radio indicating that an electromagnetic bomb detonated high above the earth’s surface had destroyed communications for thousands of miles, the Neubergers decide to head off to New Jersey to locate their children and search for an escape route to Eretz Yisroel where they could be reunited with their other children and bask in the safety of the place on this earth where the Shechina (G-d’s presence) dwells. The roads were immersed in snarling gridlock and supplies of gas were scarce, so the Neubergers employed some ingenuity and utilized their only viable means of transportation; their trusty bicycles to get them to where they needed to be.
Turning to each other for comfort and solace during this arduous, if not impossible trek, Yisroel queries his wife. “Leah, how will we survive?” Leah’s rejoinder is clear. “We will survive, G-d will save us.You will see.” It is this unshakable faith and trust in Hashem that serves as the catalyst and driving force for their journey through the metaphorical dense darkness of night to the blissful eternal light at the end of the tunnel. On their road to reunification with their children, the Neubergers confront a seemingly endless litany of harrowing and life threatening scenarios; amongst them being almost crushed to death by commercial airliners, a close call after an attempted attack by a band of deranged hooligans, and an encounter with an unscrupulous miscreant who is the only person that can transport them by boat from Brooklyn to Staten Island.
Throughout it all, Yisroel and Leah never entertain the notion of relinquishing their faith and determination to survive. Having packed his tallis, tefillin, siddur and chumash, Yisroel prays three times a day; beseeching Hashem for mercy while he and Leah offer succor to each other with timely Divrei Torah, having plumbed the depths of our holy sources for words of encouragement in times of travail. What follows is nothing sort of miraculous. Feeling the Hand of Hashem every step of the way, Yisroel and Leah meet up with their children from Lakeville (Lakewood to us laymen) on the Garden State Parkway along with a formidable chevra of frum Jews who have joined them. Traveling together as a group, they negotiate a strategic plan for survival and decide to head north towards New England, where they hope to catch a sea worthy vessel to take them to Europe and then to their final destination; Eretz Yisroel.
Beset by a multitude of serious dangers, challenges and difficulties they meet extraordinary people, sent by Hashem to assist them on the path to redemption. With the help of relatives Uncle Phil and Aunt Bessie, who play a critical role in the story, they manage to expedite their journey in some small measure, while other characters such as righteous gentiles also posit themselves as facilitators; offering much needed practical guidance and assistance in this heart stopping drama.
The reader cannot help but marvel at the sheer eloquence and graphic depiction of the events leading up to the coming of Moshiach and the final end of days that Mr. Neuberger describes in words that sound a clarion call to teshuvah and tug at your heartstrings. This chilling account of the dawn of the Messianic era is not for the faint hearted and those who suffer from ideological myopia. No one can deny that each one of us has deeply pondered what events would look like when Moshiach comes, yet Mr. Neuberger takes this to a whole new level. He offers us a unique perspective on our daily relationship to Hashem and gives new definition to our collective role in our final destiny.
A MUST READ !!! FIVE STARS !!!