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November 19, 2013

THE NIGHT OF BROKEN GLASS/HOLOCAUST: DON’T BLAME GOD

by profbartling1

A scripture read at a recent service came from the prophet Malachi. His name means my messenger. Malachi warns (4: 1-2a) that the day of the Lord is coming. On that day evil will be destroyed like stubble in a fire, when “the sun of righteousness” will shine on those who fear God. Our Monday morning study group shares views regarding the scriptures to be read at the following Sunday service. What followed was a discussion as to what evil might be suggested to be like stubble to be burned in a fire? That led to describing and naming egregious symbols of inhumanity perpetrated against fellow humans.

The seventy-fifth anniversary of Kristallnacht, “The Night of Broken Glass”, November 9, 1938 , associated as part of the Holocaust the study group saw as “symbol of inhumanity”. Kristallnacht was the pogrom resulting in broken glass strewn about – an assault against Jews agitated by Nazi Storm Troops, SS, and the Hitler Youth. The populace were encouraged to join the rampage destroying businesses and property of the Jews. Motivation was revenge and reprisal for the assassination of a German diplomat in Paris by a seventeen year old German Jewish youth. Instigated by Nazi officials locals targeted Jewish homes and business, 30,000  were sent to concentration camp, 1777 synagogues were burned, homes, schools ransacked and demolished, 7,500 businesses destroyed.

Angela Merkel, German chancellor, recently a few days ahead of the anniversary called “Kristallnacht “one of the darkest moments in German history” and urged her countrymen to “ensure no form of anti-Semitism is tolerated”. She cautioned against the dangers of anti-Semitism violence on “The Night of Broken Glass”.  It is “almost inexplicable” she noted, “but also the reality that no Jewish institution can be left without police protection”. (The Times of Israel)

DON’T BLAME GOD

Rabbi Arthur Green, professor of religion at Brandeis University, lauds his teacher Abraham Joshua Heschel, the “towering religious figure of American Jewry in the post-war era”,  for providing reason for not blaming God for the Holocaust, 1938-1945.

Rabbi Green writes regarding his teacher.  “Hershel, whose mother and sisters had died in Warsaw/Treblinka, felt it was too easy to blame God for the holocaust. The failure, he insisted, was essentially a human one. It was human beings, transgressing what he insisted was religion’s most essential teaching – the creation of every person in God’s image – who had brought about the unimaginable degradation of their fellow humans. Our task, Hershel insisted, was not that of reconstructing religion but of rebuilding humanity. If humanity had failed, the only thing to do was to be more human and to show others how to be more human.

He (Heschel) liked to tell the Hasidic tale of Rabbi Raphael of Bershad who invited a group of his disciples to come and share with him in a ride in his coach. ‘But there is not enough room!’ a disciple cried out. ‘The rebbe will be crowded.’ The master replied: ‘Then we shall have to love each other more. If we love each other more, there will be room for us all.’ Heschel understood that all of humanity rides in that coach, one that can be either the divine chariot of God or the crowded, sealed railway car. The choice, he insisted, is a human one, and we who have escaped the terrors of hell are here to help all our fellow humans make that choice.”

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