The jewish presence essays on identity and history

The memory of the Holocaust and its horrors, needless to say, sears the heart and mind of every Jew. Such a view is rooted in a denial of the past that actually took place.

In contrast to Yehuda Elkana, who urged us to forget the past, Zuckermann encourages remembrance, yet he too underscores the memory and conception of the Holocaust as a decontextualized occurrence: I believe it is important to remember.

He writes: I can speak solely for myself—and, even if with caution, for contemporaries, probably numbering into the millions, whose being Jewish burst upon them with elemental force…. On my left forearm I bear the Auschwitz number; it reads more briefly than the Pentateuch or the Talmud and yet provides more thorough information.

interpretations of the holocaust

Auschwitz imposes upon him the inevitability of being a Jew; he is a Jew not because he chose his Jewishness, but because this Jewishness has been forced upon him by his would-be murderers. Each article—from the analysis of contemporary literature on Jews and Jewish identity in Latin America to the various papers on the Argentine Jewish institutional infrastructure—is meritorious in its own right.

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In this respect, the call for a commemoration that rejects or minimizes the particularistic aspects of the Holocaust is another deadly blow to those who have died and an offense against those still living. This does not mean, however, that one must forget the Holocaust and form an identity completely cut off from it. The first principle in the moral judgment of the Holocaust regards—and ought to regard—the general prohibition against murder of human beings. Yet life is based not on the past but on the future. If… I say: I am a Jew, then I mean that by those realities and possibilities that are summed up in the Auschwitz number. Like the proponents of the Enlightenment before them, Zuckermann, Segev, and those holding their position maintain that a claim of moral value is always universal. But it can also constantly whisper in our ear: We always were and always will be the victim. Bokser Liwerant expends considerable space discussing the transnational aspect of Latin American Jewish communities, and illustrates, though the case of Latin American Jewish immigrants in the United States, the value of understanding the cross-processes of transnational movement in identity and community-building for Jews within and beyond Latin America. Perceiving the Jew as right in the absolute sense might relieve him of the need to reexamine his moral positions in relation to others. He is the author of twelve books and several articles. Everyone must be who he was in the first years of his life, even if later these were buried under. Detailed criticism of this meta-ethical position is beyond the scope of this essay. The same holds for other cases of genocide: Condemning the extermination of the Jews does not mean that atrocities against other groups have not been committed.

The volume is divided into four sections, grouping the factions that underlie the study of Latin American Jews and Jewish identities into larger overarching themes.

Building identity on the basis of the Holocaust, it seems, is an extension of the Zionist effort to construct a national persona devoid of any historical depth.

The jewish presence essays on identity and history

Through careful consideration of global and national historical timelines, Schenkolewski-Kroll shows how political and economic forces, as well as ideological schemas such as Zionism, have shaped Argentine Jewish identity. Becker New York: Schocken, , pp. It contributes to our understanding of Jews and Jewish identities outside of those more frequently studied in academic circles. Indeed, if the link to the past consists only of a return to the Holocaust as a mythical, sacred history, we would do better to adopt the imperative of forgetting. This does not mean, however, that one must forget the Holocaust and form an identity completely cut off from it. It may be that it is important for the world at large to remember. She has also published several articles about Israeli society. Recognizing the evil done to the Jews does not depend, and ought not depend, on the moral judgment of other evils perpetrated during the Holocaust. The possibilities with which man is faced in relation to the past are varied, ranging between two fundamental and contrasting poles—complete rejection or absolute adoption. The conclusion of everything we have said thus far is that the Holocaust cannot serve as an independent foundation of identity. First, perceiving the Holocaust as an independent and separate foundation for identity essentially dissociates it from its broader frame of reference. The richness of this book lies in the variety of subjects and the depth with which each author delves into their specific area.

The values by which a bank clerk works, for example, do not necessarily stem from his identity—at least not from its very core.

The evil of the Holocaust is precisely this act of exclusion, a point that must not be overlooked in the moral judgment of the event.

intentionalist vs structuralist holocaust

The experience of loss has very often shaped the identities of Holocaust survivors, and has even gone on to shape the identities of those born into the second and third generations. It places the Jew squarely within the realm of the just and the moral, since in the Holocaust the division between good and evil was absolute.

He realized that he was a Jew not because he chose to be a Jew, but because the others—the Nazis—saw him as one.

Holocaust historiography

The richness of this book lies in the variety of subjects and the depth with which each author delves into their specific area. This does not mean, however, that one must forget the Holocaust and form an identity completely cut off from it. Living human beings, experiencing specific cultures and contexts, determine what has value for them. It contributes to our understanding of Jews and Jewish identities outside of those more frequently studied in academic circles. The debate surrounding this question, in accordance with the theory we have just outlined, is demarcated by two antithetical positions: The first seeks to ground all of Jewish identity in the Holocaust, while the second aims to remove the Holocaust from the purview of discussion completely. Its scope presents a variety of subjects, including political ideologies, historical affinities, educational directions, and literary trends. Such an identity will ultimately come to be dominated by trauma. Yossi J. It places the Jew squarely within the realm of the just and the moral, since in the Holocaust the division between good and evil was absolute. The conclusion of everything we have said thus far is that the Holocaust cannot serve as an independent foundation of identity. The attempt to universalize the Holocaust stems from the desire to eliminate the particularity of identity. In addition, almost all of the essays in this volume are primarily about Jews in Argentina and Brazil. See Zuckermann, On the Fabrication of Israelism, pp. Jews and Jewish Identities in Latin America surely will turn into a reference book for all interested in the Jewish presence in Latin America. Amos Oz, The Slopes of Lebanon, trans.
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The Holocaust and the Foundation of Jewish Identity » Mosaic