Module 3: Religion & Culture
The Holocaust is central to Jewish identity. In countless surveys in Canada, the United States, Israel, and around the world, the Holocaust consistently emerges as a key factor in Jewish identity, no matter if one is religious or secular. The fact of the murder of six million Jews is inescapable in modern Jewish life. It has left its mark on Jewish life, practice and thought.
This section of the module on Religion and Culture and the Holocaust seeks to begin to illustrate Jewish responses to the Shoah during the war, but also signal how Jews responded to this terrifying history afterwards.
The Grumach family owned a timber mill in Koenigsberg. Following the rise of Hitler, they were forced to sell their business and moved to Berlin, where there was a larger Jewish community, in 1936. Les Grumach’s grandfather realized that nowhere in Germany was safe for Jews so they applied to move to Australia. During their time in Berlin, Les’s father had his Bar Mitzvah and received his tallit. On Kristallnacht, their synagogue was burned. A few days later, he went into the shul to rescue the tallits. A few years later they received a visa and left Germany. Les Grumach describes how his father always wore his burned tallit with pride.