Rethinking Jewish Faith: The Child of a Survivor Responds

By Steven L. Jacobs | Go to book overview

8
Rethinking Christianity: An Outsider's Perspective

Orthodox Rabbi and thinker Eliezer Berkovits in Faith After the Holocaust1 tells the story of a rabbi survivor of the Shoah who was confronted after World War II by a sincere, devout, and well-meaning Christian layperson who asked him, "What do you want from us now that the war is over?" The rabbi is said to have responded, "All we want from you is that you keep your hands off our children!"

His response, whether apocryphal or not, is indicative of the terribly sad and tragic state to which Jewish-Christian relations had deteriorated both prior to and during the Shoah as well as historically. Even today, now five decades after the events of 1933(39)-1945, Jewish-Christian relations continues to be a house fragilely built, at times strong in the face of adversarial attacks, for example, synagogue desecrations by the KKK, neo-Nazis, skinheads, and other racists; and weak at other times, for example, the lack of response to the continuing assassination of Israel in the various media. Living predominantly in a non-Jewish, Christian, Western world after the Shoah, Christianity itself, as well as Jewish-Christian relations, are topics worthy of theological exploration by both Jews and Christians. It is one of the premises of this book that, after Auschwitz, the Jewish theological categories of God, covenant, prayer, halakhah and mitzvot, life cycle, holiday cycle, and Israel and Zionism must be rethought because the historically traditional understanding of those categories no longer applies. By extension, therefore, if we are truthful and honest with ourselves, as Jews and as Christians, Christian theological categories, too, must be rethought and reevaluated.

Though it obviously would be somewhat presumptuous for one who is not a Christian to elaborate all those categories of faith central to the Christian religious experience that now must be rethought and reevaluated in light of the Shoah, such an agenda must be pre-

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