How do you think about G-d in the Holocaust

I have taught Holocaust Studies for most of my life on the high school and college level.  When I discuss the Holocaust and G-d, I share many possible views.  In truth, after having written numerous books on the subject, I don’t have an answer.

I cannot in good conscience believe that the Jewish people were punished, because if I believe that, then I would not be a rabbi, and probably be an atheist. One and a half million priceless Jewish children were murdered.  What was their sin?

The answer I give myself and others is  that mankind caused the Holocaust, not G-d. It is the only answer I can live with. Yet I  just read  Rabbi Avigdor Miller’s  “Divine Defense of Hashem Madness In The Matter of the Holocaust ” and I remembered my father telling me the shoa  is predicted in the Chumash, the tochahah.

My students ask me “Can the Holocaust happen again?”  My answer is a definite yes.  A number of atomic bombs thrown at Israel by its enemies would annihilate the Israeli population.  One is naïve to believe that anti-Semitism does not exist throughout the world.  If we have learned anything from the Shoah, it is that it is possible for a madman to arise who wants to annihilate the Jewish people.  Never fool yourself into believing that you are safe anywhere.  We must always be alert and fight against prejudice wherever it may exist.

Finally, how do we keep Holocaust memory alive and what is our message to our children, grandchildren and future generations?  In my opinion, all the museums in the world and all the books that are written will not preserve the memory of the Holocaust. In time, the Holocaust may become nothing more than a date in history. If we teach Holocaust and genocide together as one subject, we guarantee that the impact of the Holocaust will merely blend into other genocides.

What is the solution?  We must incorporate in our religious services and religious traditions, memoirs, readings, and liturgy, readings concerning the Holocaust.  I have, therefore, already written a Holocaust Passover Haggadah and a Holocaust Siddur ( see on the internet: RosenbergHolocaustHaggadah.com).  Reading about the Holocaust must become part of every Jewish holiday, particularly the High Holidays.

I want to emphasize to those children and grandchildren who still have  living survivors of the Holocaust in their families,  ask questions now, don’t be afraid.  Sometimes, a Holocaust survivor will not feel comfortable speaking to their children, but will be able to communicate their thoughts with their grandchildren.  I ask that you  do so before all the Holocaust survivors are gone.

Remember the lives, the culture, the achievements, of those who perished in the Holocaust.

About the Author
Rabbi Dr. Bernhard H. Rosenberg, rabbi emeritus of Congregation Beth-El, Edison, New Jersey received his ordination and doctorate of Education from Yeshiva University in New York. He also possesses A.A., B.A., M.A., and M.S. degrees in communication and education. He possesses a Doctor of Divinity from the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York. He taught at Rutgers University in New Jersey and Yeshiva University in New York. His books include: “Theological and Halachic Reflections on the Holocaust,” “Contemplating the Holocaust,” “The Holocaust as Seen Through Film,” and "Echoes of the Holocaust."
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