Rethinking Jewish Faith: The Child of a Survivor Responds

By Steven L. Jacobs | Go to book overview

Appendix I: "[If] There Is No 'Commander'?. . . There Are No 'Commandments'!"

I

Those who know me know that, whatever else may be said of me, I am a child of the Holocaust: that the events of 1933-1945, which, at their conclusion, realized the horrendous deaths of Six Million of our own, 5 million others, and 20 million Russians, have so affected my every waking moment that everything I do, everything I say, everything I think is, somehow, colored by that Holocaust.

Specifically, I am the last surviving male member of my family to bear our name, son of an escapee, a survivor, whose entire family was unknown to me, with the exception of a very few relatives -- in this country now one; in Israel two; and in South America one. Today, I teach courses on the Holocaust in all three institutions of higher learning in my community; I write and lecture in other communities; I read everything that I can about the Holocaust in an attempt to fathom the meaning of those events; and I am presently working on a book dealing with the implications of the Holocaust, as well as gathering material for a series of projected works on a major scholar of genocide, Dr. Raphael Lemkin. Even more specifically, my very reason for entering the rabbinate is the result of growing up the child of a survivor. Whatever else it is, my rabbinate is my personal answer to the tragedy of my family and our people. It is my "NO!" to Adolf Hitler, may his name be blotted out, who, fortunately, failed in his quest to make our world Judenrein, free of Jews. It is my "YES!" that the people Israel and the various evolutions of our faith called Judaism possess continuing viability and dynamism.

And, yet, whatever else this Holocaust has done to me as I have grown toward maturity, it has shattered for all time the easy accep

Reprinted from JUDAISM: A Quarterly Journal of Jewish Thought, 37, no. 3 (Summer 1988): 323-326. Permission granted.

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