Solidarity, Hope, and Wrestling with God: The Perspective of the Will for Life of the Jewish People in Modern Times as a Major Theme in Yehuda Bauer’s Historiography

Dan Michman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Yehuda Bauer is well known for his public leadership in Holocaust and genocide studies. This article, however, sheds light on another aspect of Bauer's historiography: most of his research studies—that is, those for which he dove into primary archival research and that are focused on more concrete historical topics, rather than general overviews, and have an extensive scholarly apparatus—deal with Jewish history only and, more precisely, with some very clear topics within it. They surround the Holocaust as an event but tackle a much deeper issue: the uniqueness of the Jewish people as a historical phenomenon, explored through the prism of the Shoah. Six clusters of studies, which are inter-related and often intertwine and overlap, can be discerned in this oeuvre: (1) his studies on the Brichah movement; (2) his trilogy on the history of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee; (3) his ongoing polemic regarding the American Jewish community's commitment to and investment in rescue activities of European Jewry and its (in)ability to influence US administration policies; (4) his studies on the behavior of Jewish leadership under Nazi rule; (5) his studies on the negotiations between Jewish groups and individuals and the Nazis on rescue during the Shoah; and (6) his studies of the phenomenon of Jewish communal organization and its modes of functioning, even during the last days of the Eastern European shtetlach. To these topics a seventh topic that bothered Bauer—which is quite astonishing in view of his firm stance in favor of Jewish secularism—is examined: religious Jewry and the possibility of faith in God after the Holocaust. Thus, it is claimed here, Bauer remained “on speaking terms” with God, but that his stance is mehutzaf (“contrary”)—the term he uses to describe a basic characteristic of the Jews in general.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-67
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Holocaust Research
Volume36
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Weiss-Livnat International Center for Holocaust Research and Education at the University of Haifa.

Keywords

  • Holocaust historiography
  • Israeli scholarship
  • genocide studies
  • modern Jewish historiography

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