Rabbi Dr Maybaum and Rabbi Dr Baeck

A Footnote to Professor David Ellenson's Lecture

in European Judaism
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There is a long essay entitled "Leo Baeck in Terezin" which, as far as I know, first appeared in The Face of God After Auschwitz, the first volume of Ignaz Maybaum I ever owned, published under the auspices of RSGB in 1965. The essay seems to have been prompted by the not widely acknowledged ambiguity with which Baeck was received in London in the period up to his death in 1956. For most, Baeck was a saint. For some, however, his affirmation of the western philosophical tradition in Terezin constituted a humanistic betrayal. The Maybaum essay acknowledges the criticism. However, it is, ultimately, not only a stout defence but gets very close to Baeck's essence. What Maybaum argues is that when Baeck lectured in Terezin, he was not engaging in secular, humanistic education. Nor was he dismissing the Greek and German heritage but using it as religious protest. Because, even in Terezin - Baeck affirmed, says Maybaum, 'Truth - like the world - is the creation of God' and 'Truth, morality and love are the creation of God' and '… those who walk forward towards the kingdom of God are not taught by philosophers to do so; they are sent on this journey by God'.

European Judaism

A Journal for the New Europe


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