Rethinking Jewish Faith

The Child of a Survivor Responds

By Steven L. Jacobs

Subjects: Holocaust Studies
Series: SUNY series in Modern Jewish Literature and Culture
Paperback : 9780791419588, 151 pages, July 1994
Hardcover : 9780791419571, 151 pages, July 1994

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Table of contents

Foreword by Zev Garber

Foreword by Alan L. Berger

Introduction: Why? The Genesis of My Own Thinking

1. The Problem with God

2. Covenant: Involuntary? Voluntary? Nonexistent?

3. The Crises of Prayer

4. Halakhah and Mitzvot: Law and Commandments—
The Heart of the Matter

5. Rethinking the Jewish Life Cycle: From Birth to Death

6. Rethinking the Jewish Festival Cycle:
The Calendar in Question

7. Israel and Zionism in the Post-Shoah World

8. Rethinking Christianity: An Outsider's Perspective

9. Summarizing: Is Such Even Possible?


Appendix I: "[If] There Is No 'Commander'? . ..
There Are No 'Commandments'!"

Appendix II: "Rethinking Jewish [and Christian?] Faith
in Light of the Holocaust:
The Response of the Child of a Survivor"

Notes and Bibliography


About the Author


This book addresses the faith of a member of the "Second Generation"—the offspring of the original survivors of the Shoah . It is a re-examination of those categories of faith central to the Jewish Religious Experience in light of the Shoah: God, Covenant, Prayer, Halakhah and Mitzvot, Life-Cycle, Festival Cycle, Israel and Zionism, and Christianity from the perspective of a child of a survivor.

Steven L. Jacobs serves as the Rabbi of Temple B'nai Sholom in Huntsville, Alabama and teaches Jewish Studies at Oakwood College and Mississippi State University. He is the author of Shirot Bialik: A New and Annotated Translation of Chaim Nachman Bialik's Epic Poems; Not Guilty? Raphael Lemkin's Thoughts on Nazi Genocide; and the two volume set Contemporary Jewish and Christian Religious Responses to the Shoah. He serves as an Educational Consultant to the Center on the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights in Philadelphia.


"Rabbi Jacobs' book bears witness to the anguish of the child of a Holocaust survivor wrestling with the key elements of his faith. Jacobs prods, provokes, insists: we simply cannot return to 'business as usual' in light of the fact that a Holocaust has occurred. His very personal sounding of this call to rethink one's relation to Judaism is perhaps the major strength of this book.

"As Jews we are asked to reevaluate our relationship with God, the Covenant, prayer, divine commandments, life-cycle events, holidays, and Zionism—nothing remains as it was, he argues, although the commitment to participate fully in the life of the Jewish people remains solid. Christians are also challenged: what must a post-Holocaust Christianity say about the mission of Christians and relationship between the two faiths? Jacobs' work occupies a central place in post-Holocaust theology and Second Generation literature. " — Leonard Grob, Fairleigh Dickinson University