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Yonassan Gershom
Born Berkeley
Residence Sandstone, Minnesota
Nationality American United States
Alma mater Minnesota State University, Mankato
Occupation Rabbi
Known for Reincarnation research
Religion Breslov Hasidism

Yonassan Gershom is a Rabbi and a follower of Breslov Hasidism. He was associated with the early days of the B'nai Or movement (in which he was ordained by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi in 1986), although he is not in agreement with the direction that organization has taken in more recent years (source). He lives on a farm in rural Minnesota. He serves on the Advisory Board of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) and is active in the vegetarian and animal welfare movements. He is currently co-authoring a book on Judaism and the environment with Dr. Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D., author of Judaism and Vegetarianism.

Gershom is best known for having written several books on the topic of the Holocaust and reincarnation. Beyond the Ashes and From Ashes to Healing recount stories of people who claim to have died in the Holocaust and now be reincarnated, while Jewish Tales of Reincarnation deals with Jewish accounts of reincarnation (including a few from the Holocaust but mostly others from classical Jewish texts and oral tradition.)

In his books on reincarnation, he discusses theories concerning whether Jews who died in the Holocaust did so as punishment for their sins in their previous lives. He argues that in the Jewish conception of evil and reincarnation (as opposed to the conception found in some other religions), suffering in this life is not necessarily punishment for wrong-doing in a previous life. Rather, he argues, undeserved suffering in this life can be purely due to the wrong-doing of the perpetrators and not some punishment for the victims. He does, however, argue that, according to the Jewish concept, wickedness can be accumulated over a succession of reincarnations. Thus, he argues, it is possible that the Nazis committed the Holocaust due to the evil they had accumulated through many lifetimes of persecuting and killing Jews throughout the preceding centuries. He speculates that Adolf Hitler might have been a reincarnation of the biblical Amalek.

Gershom has appeared on several TV programs in connection with his reincarnation work, including Sightings and Unexplained Mysteries. A case from his second book, From Ashes to Healing, was featured on the BBC program, Science Mysteries on the Discovery Channel. The Duluth, Minnesota PBS station, KDLH, also featured him on their "Venture North" show in connection with his philosophy on gardening and Jewish spirituality. He appears in the 2007 documentary film, A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World, directed by Lionel Friedberg for the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA).

Although he is best known for his books on reincarnation, Gershom is also a lifelong pacifist and peace activist, who has written many articles on Judaism and nonviolence. During the 1970s and 80s when he was living in Minneapolis, he attended many rallies and protests. He graduated from Mankato State University in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science degree in German language and Native American Studies.


On reincarnation:

  • Beyond the Ashes: Cases of Reincarnation from the Holocaust, A.R.E. Press, 1992.
  • From Ashes to Healing: Mystical Encounters with the Holocaust, A.R.E. Press, 1996.
  • Jewish Tales of Reincarnation, Jason Aronson, Inc., 2000.
  • Are Holocaust Victims Returning?" self-published ebook anthology of articles on reincarnation reprinted from various periodicals, 2007.

On other topics

  • 49 Gates of Light: Kabbalistic Meditations for Counting the Omer, Crown Point Enterprises, 1987, reprinted as 49 Gates of Light: a course in kabbalah," Lulu Press, Inc. 2010
  • Jewish Themes in Star Trek, Lulu Press, Inc. 2009.

External links



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