God, Faith and Identity from the Ashes: Reflections of Children and Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

God, Faith and Identity from the Ashes: Reflections of Children and Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors (Jewish Lights, January 2015) features essays by a number of leading members of HUC-JIR's faculty and administration: Rabbi Michael Marmur, Ph.D., Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost; Rabbi Tali Zelkowicz, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Education; Sylvia Posner, Assistant to the President and Administrative Executive and Secretary to the Board of Governors; and Jean Bloch Rosensaft, Assistant Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs and Director, HUC-JIR Museum. 

This volume, edited by Menachem Z. Rosensaft, brings you the voices of almost ninety men and women—from theologians, scholars, and spiritual leaders to authors, artists, political and community leaders, and media personalities—from sixteen countries on six continents in a new and powerful life-affirming perspective on the Holocaust. Profoundly personal stories explore faith, identity, and legacy in the aftermath of the Holocaust as well as our role in ensuring that future genocides and similar atrocities never happen again.

From major religious or intellectual explorations to shorter commentaries on experiences and cultural, political and personal affirmations, contributors respond to this question: how have your parents’ and grandparents’ experiences and examples helped shape your identity and your attitudes toward God, faith, Judaism, the Jewish people, and the world as a whole? As these authors reflect on what they believe, who they are, and how that informs what they have done and are doing with their lives, these powerful and deeply moving statements will have a profound effect on the way our and future generations understand and shape their understanding of the Holocaust.

Rabbi Tali Zelkowicz, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Education and Professor Sara S. Lee Chair for an Emerging Scholar in Jewish Education at our Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles, and one of the book’s four ordained female rabbis, writes about how the best way to honor her grandmother’s past is by learning to let go of her miasmic lens, liberate herself from her ghosts, and assume her own place in the inter-generational passing of this torch. This dialectic seems to be at the core of so many of the essays, though articulated in a multitude of ways – how to identify with the victims without becoming a victim oneself? How to turn powerlessness into empowerment? How to turn pain into compassion? (Read more in Haaretz: Life-Affirming Observations from Holocaust Survivors’ Offspring)

Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., Chancellor, writes, “An overwhelmingly affecting book! The contributors’ words bear consecrated witness … and testify to the enduring power of the Jewish and human spirit. Remarkably powerful."

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu