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Post-Holocaust Anti-Nazi Theology


2xx1xy1JD

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This is a blog post I wrote a couple of years ago:

http://jrkmommy-personalandpolitical.bl ... ology.html

I'm inviting constructive criticism or snark on it, because I'd like to expand my ideas and polish them, but I'm not sure if they make sense to anyone else.

I also keep getting this Twilight Zone feeling, because I was raised with constant exposure to certain ideas and mindsets that just seemed like common knowledge and common sense. Now, since I'm meeting more people IRL and online who don't share my background, I'm realizing just how much of my thinking and upbringing were shaped by very specific events. I'm also realizing that simply describing myself as Jewish isn't actually explaining my mindset to anyone who doesn't share the same background. I find myself in discussions with everyone from ultra-Orthodox Jews to fundie Christians to atheists, who all take this basic view that Judaism is about certain beliefs and who don't realize that there is this whole other set of beliefs/values which are tremendously common and strongly held, by those who run the gamut from atheist to Orthodox. So, I'm trying to explain that other set of beliefs and values, and maybe say something about common triggers.

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Maybe I make the start ...

So is this blog post a list of pure neutral observations about what some people do or do believe?

Or does it intend to spark some kind of discussion using this observation as examples how things could turn into an obsessive compulsive act ?

(regarding "Nazis were against both Orthodox Judaism and homosexuals, so it's not unheard of for some of the same people to go to Orthodox synagogues and the gay pride parade.")

How do you deal personally with this statements "Nazis wanted to kill Jews, so Jews were good."

and this common misinformation

"4. G-d is a fuzzier, more problematic concept in this theology. On one hand, the simplistic idea of a G-d who is All-Powerful AND All-Good AND who personally runs the world AND who punishes the bad and rewards the good gets a real beating. On the other hand, the Nazis were against G-d*, so G-d must be good and the Nazis cannot be allowed to win on this point." ?

*as the NS-Regime never actually was against God in a broad understanding ( the SA and SS had marched "im Bunde mit Gott"/"in union with God" and had God mentioned in their oaths and the Wehrmacht had "Gott mit uns"/"God with us" engraved on their belt buckles) nor was A.H. himself, who understood his doings as a consequent continuation of God´s work as he mentioned many times in his Mein Kampf and also in public speeches.

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"Nazis sent homosexuals to concentration camps, so gay rights were good."

(maybe I'm telling something stupid, sorry)

The Jewish community in my country seems to be (from what I've seen, my wife is half Jewish), very very very homophobic, with a very strong opposition to gay marriage. Do you think that this could be only an american thing ? Because I was reading an interview of one of the three woman-rabbi in France saying that the US have a lot of "liberal" judaism.

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Thanks for the response.

1. I guess I was trying to pin down what the common beliefs of this "theology" were. These are things that are very common beliefs or views in my community, but I haven't really seen them officially set out.

So yes,it's intended to be a description. However, it also describes my own beliefs, so I guess it's hard to be completely neutral.

2. I should probably flesh out the examples a bit more. Again, a lot of this is me trying to summarize a POV that was very common but largely unwritten. There is a huge tendency in my community to see anything that the Nazis were against, as being good and worthy of support. This explains in part why you tend to have a lot of support for gay rights, disability rights, women's rights, left-wing politics, and Roma ("gypsies") in my circles. At the same time, even those Jews who rejected their religion to some extent changed course. It's not that they suddenly had a religious awakening, it's that there was a certain amount of respect for something and a desire to protect it, because Hitler had come close to destroying it.

Amos Oz writes about this in his book "In the Land of Israel", saying that the poet Bialik had been scathing of this old Orthodox form of Judaism, but you can't be because between then and now, Hitler had nearly destroyed it. Allan Deschowitz also mentions something similar, saying that he no longer believes in the Orthodox Judaism of his youth but that if anything would get him to put on tefillin again, it would be the desire not to give Hitler a posthumous victory. The fiercely secular early leaders of Israel, such as Shimon Peres, agreed to allow draft deferrals for yeshiva students because they were moved by the fact that the pre-war religious community had almost been completely destroyed. The Reform Movement had a big swing back to a more traditional position between the Pittsburg Platform of 1885 and the Columbus Platform of 1937.

3. I've heard a variety of things about Hitler's actual beliefs, ranging from "he was an atheist" to "he was a Christian" to "he was a neo-pagan" to "he thought he was God". Ultimately, this part wasn't really about Hitler's personal beliefs. Hitler was certainly against Judaism and the Jewish concept of God. I find that in my community, you find Humanists, but not many Nietzsche-style atheists. In other words, there's a rejection of the idea that there is no God and therefore the moral code that governs relationships between individuals is dead and we should worship brute strength instead of supporting the weak. The Nazis certainly had the support of some Christians, esp. in Eastern Europe, and there's a certain amount of negativity toward Christianity as a result, although there is also tremendous gratitude toward those Christians who did put their lives on the line to oppose the Nazis and/or save Jews.

While I'm at it, I should probably add that those non-Jews who saved Jews are pretty much regarded as saints. They weren't Jewish, they didn't have to do what they did, they could have simply passed and worried about themselves, and they put their lives at risk anyway. There is very little concern for what their beliefs were in any other respect.

Marianne - I'm talking about a philosophy that many, but not all, Jews share. I do find that this philosophy is much less common in the ultra-Orthodox world, which is where some of the protests come from. That community has its own post-Holocaust theology, which is very different.

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"Nazis sent homosexuals to concentration camps, so gay rights were good."

(maybe I'm telling something stupid, sorry)

The Jewish community in my country seems to be (from what I've seen, my wife is half Jewish), very very very homophobic, with a very strong opposition to gay marriage. Do you think that this could be only an american thing ? Because I was reading an interview of one of the three woman-rabbi in France saying that the US have a lot of "liberal" judaism.

Are you saying American Jews are homophobic? Because that's definitely not true. I'm an American Jew, and very pro-gay rights. I don't think I've ever met a Jewish person who outright expressed anti-gay sentiment (though, I know one girl who said she didn't believe in gay marriage or marriage in general...). I'd say it's more of a regional thing. Do you live in an area that is very conservative, or has pockets of conservative people?

Edited to flesh out my thoughts better

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Thanks for the response.

While I'm at it, I should probably add that those non-Jews who saved Jews are pretty much regarded as saints. They weren't Jewish, they didn't have to do what they did, they could have simply passed and worried about themselves, and they put their lives at risk anyway. There is very little concern for what their beliefs were in any other respect.

Agreed. I wouldn't be alive if it weren't for non-Jews risking their lives. A non-Jewish woman snuck my grandmother and her brother out of Germany and into France after Kristallnacht, where they remained in hiding (taken care of in homes run by non-Jews, one of which was run by nuns).

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HarryPotterFan, Marianne is French, not American. And American Hassidic and non Hassidic Ultra Orthodox Jews are most certainly not pro gay marriage. But like 2xx1xy said, they also have a totally different social and political understanding of the Holocaust than do Reform, Conservative, and a lot of Modern Orthodox.

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Are you saying American Jews are homophobic? Because that's definitely not true. I'm an American Jew, and very pro-gay rights. I don't think I've ever met a Jewish person who outright expressed anti-gay sentiment (though, I know one girl who said she didn't believe in gay marriage or marriage in general...). I'd say it's more of a regional thing. Do you live in an area that is very conservative, or has pockets of conservative people?

Edited to flesh out my thoughts better

I'm living in France, and I don't see (again, it's a view who is limited at Toulouse/Paris) pro-gay right judaism, when american judaism seems to be more "liberal"-pro gay rights :)

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I agree that the majority of American Jews are socially liberal. I grew up in a middle-of-the-road to slightly left household and my mother had out gay friends. The Ultra-Orthodox and Hasidim are a very small minority of American Jews (although they have many, many more babies due to lack of birth control!).

2xx1xy1JD - I read the blog post. Growing up in the 70s the Holocaust was a major topic in my Reform Temple Hebrew school, and did shape my parents view of the world. IMHO, with each generation this world-view lessens. The Holocaust was barely mentioned in my daughter's very liberal Hebrew school the past few years.

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I think I misread what Marianne said, sorry! :) Thanks for explaining.

I don't know much about the Jewish community in France, or how religious groups there are (or if they fall on a wide range like in America).

It's awful that the Holocaust is being taught less and less. I learned a fair amount from Hebrew school and from trips to the Holocaust museum, and now that I think about it I really didn't learn much from public school. It needs to be taught and remembered, and I think there's no excuse for it not to be.

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The way things ricochet from generation to generation, my daughter's Hebrew school is trying to come at the religion from a place of joy, lots of singing and discussion.

I would have preferred more study of history, or a least; the Jews under the Greeks; the birth of Zionism; the pogroms in Eastern Europe. But I seem to be outnumbered.

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The way things ricochet from generation to generation, my daughter's Hebrew school is trying to come at the religion from a place of joy, lots of singing and discussion.

I would have preferred more study of history, or a least; the Jews under the Greeks; the birth of Zionism; the pogroms in Eastern Europe. But I seem to be outnumbered.

I understand the desire to bring in some joy instead of just constant Holocaust and other persecution.

At the same time, I know that my kids won't have the same sort of knowledge and discussions that we had growing up. I'm trying to do whatever I can now to give them opportunities to hear directly from survivors, because they are dying off.

It's not just about Hebrew school, though. When I was growing up, this was also a theme in public school, and in public discourse.

When I read about fundies praising the idea of automatic obedience in their children, I'll admit that the first thing that pops into my mind is that they are creating little Nazis and Eichmann's defense that he was "just following orders". Same thing with some of the worship of "brute strength" from Ken and Lori - again, there's an automatic connection in my mind between worshipping strength and fascism. At some point, I realized that these things aren't pinging others in the same way.

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"Nazis sent homosexuals to concentration camps, so gay rights were good."

(maybe I'm telling something stupid, sorry)

The Jewish community in my country seems to be (from what I've seen, my wife is half Jewish), very very very homophobic, with a very strong opposition to gay marriage. Do you think that this could be only an american thing ? Because I was reading an interview of one of the three woman-rabbi in France saying that the US have a lot of "liberal" judaism.

There's a whole travel industry in North America that caters to taking people who identify as gay on trips, and a lot of them are to Israel. The Jewish gym in my hometown is open to all faiths and is queer friendly. There's also Jewish LGBT meetings (which might have started as a reaction to facing homophobia in their families and communities)

From what I know, my friends who identify as gay or bi and come from a Jewish background are not disowned or anything. I recall one of them had issues with his parents when he was in Uni, but I think that was just as much to do with him being in school for arts and getting tattoos and piercings as it was to do with him liking dick.

There isn't really a Jewish culture where I live now (Germany) at least that I know of, so I can't comment on whether the lack of homophobia is a North American phenomenon or not.

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I'm living in France, and I don't see (again, it's a view who is limited at Toulouse/Paris) pro-gay right judaism, when american judaism seems to be more "liberal"-pro gay rights :)

That is interesting. I am an American, and like others have said, have found the Reform Jews I have met to be usually left of center politically, and almost always incredibly supportive of minority rights, whether it be for gay people, ethnic minorities, women, transgendered people. This includes synagogues near me that are reliably vocal about their official support for things like legalizing gay marriage and the repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell U.S. military policy.

I guess I just amero-centrically (did I make up a word?) assumed that this was the case for mainstream Judaism regardless of national origin because of the precepts of the religion and its personal history with discrimination and violence. I know we're reduced to speaking in generalities here, but do you find the Jewish people who live in your area to be more conservative than the average French citizen? Or are gay rights just a particular sticking point? What about women's rights?

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