German Displaced Persons Camps (1945-1948)

Orthodox Jewish Responses to the Holocaust

in Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques
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Orthodox Jews in postwar German Displaced Persons camps experienced the Holocaust's rupture of God's covenantal relationship with history and the eclipse of sacred reality. They sought to recapture that reality, even though the continuity of tradition that held it had been shattered. This was done by voluntarily reviving tradition, as if by doing so the sacred could be invoked. Following momentary suspension, they sought to restore ethnic-generational purity and traditional ritual. They invested holiday celebration with Holocaust meaning. On the level of thought they expanded Israel's metahistory to include the unprecedented tragedy and intensified their own contributions of Torah and Teshuvah to the higher drama, and recommitted their trust that divine light was implicit to reality's darkness.

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