The Star of Return: Judaism after the Holocaust

The Star of Return: Judaism after the Holocaust

The Star of Return: Judaism after the Holocaust

The Star of Return: Judaism after the Holocaust

Synopsis

Asserting that "Judaism is in the midst of a paradigm shift," Rabbi Dow Marmur contends that the Holocaust marked "the beginning of the tragic end" of the old paradigm of exile. The establishment of the state of Israel points to a new beginning that has tremendous religious significance for contemporary Jews. The Star of Return, a liberal Jewish response to the religious implications of changes in the post-Holocaust era, looks at this profound transformation in terms of the individual Jew's relationship to Israel and establishes that relationship within the context of traditional Judaism.

Excerpt

A Yiddish saying sums up the Jewish condition as it was perceived through many generations: Shver zu sein a yid [It is hard to be a Jew]. For the last two thousand years, and perhaps longer, this "sigh in words" adequately reflected the burden of Jewishness: prejudice and persecution imposed by the outside world, privation and sacrifice demanded from within. To be a Jew meant to lead a dangerous life, because one could never know how society would respond to the Jewish minority; Jews were not in control of their own destiny in the way of most other nations. To be a Jew also meant hardship in meeting the demands of Jewish law as to both conduct and ritual; what was permitted for others was often forbidden for Jews--from dietary laws to sexual mores--rarely the other way around. For Jews, faced with this dual pressure, mere survival was a supreme act of commitment and faith.

That is no longer so. Most Jews today do not live in physical danger; even the incidents of prejudice are dwindling, especially for the 5 to 6 million Jews in North America and, of course, the 3.5 million Jews in Israel. Of the remaining 4 to 5 million, about half live in relative freedom and voluntarily choose to be where they are; only Jews in the Soviet Union and in Arab countries still feel trapped, and the Jews in Russia now have the option of immigrating to Israel.

Similarly, it has become much easier to observe Jewish law. As much as rabbis may attack technology as the enemy of religion, it has, by and large, served Jewish Orthodoxy well and produced a host of devices that make it . . .

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