Toward a Jewish Theology of Liberation: The Challenge of the 21st Century

By Marc H. Ellis | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
Memory as Burden
and Possibility

There is little question that the Holocaust and the birth of the state of Israel represent the two formative events of the Jewish people in the twentieth century. But how Jews understand these events today, and how Jews understood these events as they were occurring, is more diverse than most commentators on Jewish life acknowledge.

What is crucial for the future of the Jewish people is to recover this diversity of opinion and interpretation, past and present, so that we are not overwhelmed by grief or by power. If Jews are overwhelmed by their history, is it not too easy to use Jewish suffering and power as a blunt instrument rather than as a humble path of justice and compassion?

The need for total agreement is less than the need for airing of different views: the plurality of Jewish life may represent the breakthrough to deeper reflection on the crisis that Jewish thinkers have outlined so vividly.


Holocaust as Burden

In an important essay, Phillip Lopate, a Jewish essayist and novelist, reopens the extremely emotional subject of the Holocaust. He begins with a most provocative title: “Resistance to the Holocaust.” Lopate's intention is less to speak of the atrocities of the Nazi era, which are to his mind “enormous and unforgivable,” than to address the cultural, political, and religious uses to which the disaster has since been put.

Born after World War II, but before the term Holocaust had become commonplace, Lopate, as a child, heard “concentration camp; gas chambers; six million Jews; what the Nazis did.” Some might see it as an

-51-

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Toward a Jewish Theology of Liberation: The Challenge of the 21st Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - A Shattered Witness 15
  • Chapter 2 - The Cost of Empowerment 31
  • Chapter 3 - Memory as Burden and Possibility 51
  • Chapter 4 - A Tradition of Dissent 75
  • Chapter 5 - Toward an Inclusive Liturgy of Destruction 115
  • Chapter 6 - Liberation Struggles and the Jewish Community 145
  • Chapter 7 - From Holocaust to Solidarity 203
  • Epilogue - The Coming of Constantinian and Evangelical Judaism 227
  • Notes 235
  • Index 253
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