Jewish Religious Responses to the Holocaust

Department of Theology and Religion, School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion

College of Arts and Law


Code 11857

Level of study Third/Final year

Credit value 10

Semester 2

Pre-requisite modules Introduction to Jewish Religion and Culture - 19880 and Introduction to the Study of the Holocaust - 18230

Other pre-requisites None

Module description

This module analyses a broad range of Jewish religious responses to the Holocaust both as events were happening and in their aftermath. These responses fall into three broad groupings:

  1. Orthodox responses both during and after the Holocaust primarily emphasize continuity with what has gone before;
  2. ‘Holocaust theology’ emerged in the mid-1960s following the publication of Richard L Rubenstein’s After Auschwitz: Radical Theology and Contemporary Judaism (1966), and interprets the Holocaust as a radical challenge in the face of which traditional Jewish religious categories of meaning (e.g. covenant, election, Israel) are held to be inadequate and/or in need of radical reinterpretation;
  3. Post-Holocaust responses (the 1990sff) are characterized by chronological distance from events and explore the impact of the Holocaust on Jewish identity and Jewish/ non-Jewish relations, particularly attitudes towards the Palestinians. Such responses are often characterized with direct engagement with the work of feminist and/or liberation theologians. They are preoccupied with the ramifications of the very different ways that the Holocaust has come to be remembered and used (even exploited) and the impact of the ‘sanctification of the Holocaust’ on Jewish self-understanding, and the (potential or actual) ramifications of ‘Holocaust theology’ for Jewish self-understanding.

Teaching and learning methods

The module will be delivered principally through interactive lectures.