A Grain of Sand

"I will multiply you as the stars in heaven and as the sand upon the shore." - Genesis 22:17

"I can see the master's hand in every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand." - Dylan, Every Grain of Sand (on Shot of Love)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Young Jews and the Shoah

What we've known anecdotaly for some time is now beginning to be common knowledge: young Jews do not see the Holocaust as an essential part of their Jewish identity. An article from Moment discussing new research is here.

For centuries Jewish identity and cohesion has been an alchemy of the Jewish past and present. Jews in 2008, young or old, don't get a lot of mileage from an emphasis on suffering in the recent past. It is not the experience of most Jews. The challenge is to give people meaning in a world in which all frameworks of meaning are under assault.

For many baby boomers the cornerstones of recent Jewish history are the Holocaust and the 1967 war. These are an important part of their experience and identity. The primary experience of younger Jews is one of domestic stability, tolerance, affluence, and an absence of anti-semitism. With regard to Israel, the formative memory is probably 1982 and Lebanon, which frames a view of Israel as the persecutor.

Basically, young people, like all people, are looking for authentic responses to questions about the meaning of Judaism. "Because our ancestors suffered" has never been enough.


  1. This is ultimately a good thing. We must strive to define what we are, not what others have done to us. That said, the recent history of the 20th century must never be forgotten. I wouldn't be surprised if five hundred years from now the primary cultural contact with thr Shoah is the musical "The Producers".

  2. Comment about Rabbi Josh s thanking HaShem that the suffering and horrors of his ancestors has not been placed his generation
    I am so glad that this new generation of Jew’s has not had to suffer the horrors and prejudices that their previous generations did. But this can be a curse as well as a blessing. Rabbi Josh’s generation is being assimilated into the idolatrous ways of the nations and can be destroyed spiritually which results in a much worse fate of oblivion in eternity than the short period of time of physical and mental suffering which led to an eternity with HaShem that most of the victims of the Holocaust inherited.
    Pack’s comment is right on.