Module 3: Religion & Culture

Jewish Religious and Theological Responses

Jewish responses to the Shoah are rooted in historical Jewish responses to other catastrophes and suffering. The earliest responses from during the war do not stray from the classical theological understanding of Jewish suffering being caused by Jewish sin and resolved through repentance. We have internalized the distinction that before the modern period Jew-hatred took the form of religious hatred, and with the modern period, especially in National Socialism, Jew hatred transformed into a racial hatred. How should we understand the specifically religious dimensions of the Nazi assault on the Jewish people and Judaism? If their hatred was only racial, why burn down synagogues and shave religious men’s beards? It is striking how Jews continued to follow, as best they could, the religious practices that made up Jewish life. From observing the Sabbath and holidays, to keeping kosher, oral histories and memoirs describe these efforts, so often futile, as a powerful form of resistance.

Voices from the Warsaw Ghetto

Primary Sources on Suffering: Biblical

Individual Sin and Suffering in the Talmud

Primary Sources on Suffering: Rabbinic


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Hear Our Voices Copyright © by Deidre Butler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book