Saint Xavier University Jewish Religion Holocaust An Ethical Reflection Paper

Saint Xavier University

Question Description

I’m studying for my Philosophy class and don’t understand how to answer this. Can you help me study?

Listen to the following class lectures, along with the notes attached and complete the following:

(tutor must provide their email to send the lectures)

Final Essay Questions


  • 4 pages min each question
  • Double spaced
  • Times New Roman
  • 12pt font/ 1-inch margins
  • Use at least two sources PER question and quote properly

Due: May 10

Essay Question #1:

How does the Modern era deal with the Jewish Question of Identity? How does the Jewish Diaspora construct this identity? Using thinkers such as (but not limited to): Gaon of Vilna, Moses Mendelssohn and selections from Mendes-Flohr, include a description of the following: Traditionalists, Maskilim, and Hasidim.

Essay Question #2:

Describe the using the entirety of the class, the trajectory that lead to the Holocaust. Did anti-Semitism begin with Hitler? Trace the history. Please include the following: Mein Kampf and Hannah Arendt’s “Organized Guilt and Universal Responsibility.” First explain her position and give two detailed examples of how you agree or disagree with her argument using information you have learned from other texts. Is it ethical to blame an entire nation? Is it ethical to absolve those who may not have directly participated, but rather turned away? You may include the film: God on Trial.

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Disclaimer: These are my notes. I use them to give me a sense of what I am teaching for the day and how to divide up material. If it does not make sense to you—or you prefer an OUTLINE fashion (but I like a narrative) – LET ME KNOW! Week 12: Tuesday, March 31st Assigned Reading: most important bolded - Fishbane: Chapter 4 (pp 114-132) - PDFs are available on CANVAS: o The Jew in the Modern World, “A Society for the Preservation of the Jewish People (1819),” “The Society for the Culture and Science of the Jews Statutes (1822),” and “A Society to Further Jewish Integration (1822).” o Selection from Mendelssohn, Jerusalem We are taking a leap now to the Modern Period. Which for us means: 1580s1940s (or 16th-20th century). Geographically: We are in Europe – with countries you will now recognize! Population of Jews in Europe: By the 1700s there are 1 million Jews (that is a low number, but the community lost many members after the Christian Expulsion of 13th century – we are not covering that). By the 1930s there will be 17 million Jews Vocabulary: Fishbane has a glossary in the back with some of this! o Ashkenazi o Sephardic o Tradition o Assimilation o Acculturation o Integration o Migration o Jewish Diaspora (Galut ‫ – )גלות‬had to sneak in some hebrew o Modernity So now we get back to what we have been aiming toward all semester—Is Judaism a religion (Shomer Mitzvot)? An ethnicity (birth/culture)? Both? And guess what—YOU CAN’T ANSWER! As non-Jews we are not in a place to find or produce an answer. Rather, as students of Judaism, our role is to understand the question 1 and more importantly --why it is a question! That is what we are going to do for the next two weeks. Ready?? Our Main Question for the Day: How can Jews living in Diaspora (spread apart all over the world, speaking different languages, reading and being exposed to different cultures) still maintain a SINGULAR JEWISH IDENTITY? First things first: What do we mean by a singular identity? Does any group have one? Let’s Discuss! Now Getting Specifically Jewish: Turn to Fishbane p. 114 The Jewish Modern world is characterized by asking this question: 1. Resist the power of tradition and commit yourself to the larger world around you 2. Resist the new ideas of modernity as threats to traditional truths and forms. How do we begin to deal with these questions? We ask little ones first! Fishbane is here to help! Little Questions: 3 total 1. Choose to either Resist or Incorporate the surrounding host countries culture (e.g. learn the host country’s language, read their books, newspapers etc…). 2. Ask and Decide whether the other culture is even compatible with Judaism (i.e. recall some host countries have attempted to murder Jews in the past!) 3. Can Jews read and be influenced by other texts. Can Jews move beyond the Torah and and rabbinic literature? In other words: can you decentralize the torah? And ultimately one of the most complex questions according to Fishbane becomes: Should one remain a Jew and in what way? The above questions are going to take time to unpack. So let’s discuss! 2 Jewish by Culture or Religion: Use our vocabulary words to follow: Our focus when discussing Jews in Modern Times will be mainly through the eyes of the Ashkenazi Jews. There are two distinct types of Ashkenazi Jew. One that lives in Central/Western Europe and the other that lives in Eastern Europe. These two drastically different experiences are going to make up for the theme of this class lecture. Are you Jewish as a Culture? Or are you Jewish by Religion? If you stop practicing the tradition—are you still considered a Jew? This will be covered extensively throughout the Modern period in many different formats. Now this is not the first time we’ve seen the Jews adapt to a new environment. All through the Middle Ages, empires and rulers from different regions came and went. The Jews adapt when they lost their temple. They became a people spread around Mesopotamia (rather than concentrated in either Egypt or Canaan – as in the time of Abraham). How did they survive—anyone? ANYONE? Who did they look to keep them bonded even when they were physically apart? REMEMBER NO INTERNET—NO TWITTER. Used: o Bible and Rabbi’s as the authority on the bible to keep them all on the same page and a part of the same group. o That kept the Jews from straying from converting etc… Remember the Kararites! Adapting is not new to them. But what is new is the control the Jews now have to either adapt or not adapt on their own terms. They are making the decision! The difference between Ashkenazi Jews : How did this get polarized and why? Is the difference between Tradition and Acculturation (recall difference between acculturation and assimilation) Let’s begin in Central/Western Europe: We are going to juxtapose two main figures from each side. Tradition vs. Acculturation. Let’s do this by using prominent Jewish figures and see what they have to say: On the Side of Tradition: Rabbi Elijah Gaon o We come to Vilna (now Vilnius) in Lithuania (Fishbane p. 115-118). Where we meet a very famous rabbi who begins to articulate the problem of Jews in modernity. Rabbi Elijah ben Solomon also known as Rabbi Elijah Gaon (remember that word)—was born there in 1720. He was considered the last great theologian of classical rabbinism. And was a profound believer in tradition and not allow Judaism to conform or adapt to foreign surroundings. 3 In other words—he is old school and doesn’t want to assimilate, acculturate or anything close. His nickname was the Gaon of Vilna Anyone remember what you read about him? o Quirky o Low textual criticism o High Textual criticism One book he wrote was on: Hebrew Grammar. Let’s remind ourselves of the various forms of Hebrew: First Hebrew is the language of the Jews. But if you recall there is more than one type of Hebrew Because the Jews had to migrate and move around as much as they did—their original language had been lost and changed over the 1,000 years of their existence. Overall we have three distinct types of Hebrew: 1. Biblical Hebrew: Biblical Hebrew is the earliest form. It is the Hebrew of the Bible and most prayers. Today when a religious Jew reads or recites a prayer they do so in Biblical Hebrew. Biblical Hebrew uses vowels and markings to accent words. It ceased being spoken around 200 c.e. which is AFTER …—2nd Temple falling 2. Medieval Hebrew: Also known as Rashi Hebrew. If you remember Rashi was the Rabbinic Scholar who wrote the commentaries alongside the Talmud. We are in the late 12th century now—so Hebrew has not been spoken for 1,000 years. If I were to ask you what would be distinct about Medieval Hebrew what would you say: Arabic and Latin influence. There are differences in vowels, accents, script. Things have changed because the surroundings have changed. 3. Modern Hebrew: More recently, after the development of the state of Israel. A newer form of Hebrew has come up. Modern Hebrew or Israeli Hebrew. This is the Hebrew spoken and read today throughout the world and in Israel. Modern Hebrew tends to be read and written without vowels or accents (unless it is poetry or prayer). It is the official language of Israel, but has borrowed heavily from European words all over the world (since most Jews migrated to Israel from all over the world). Example: I was taught by a man (Menachem Brinker) who used to create new Hebrew words for modern items. He created the Hebrew word for computer!! He was an amazing person. 4 So back to the Vilna of Gaon—he wrote a Hebrew Grammar book in the middle of all this—and guess in what style? MEDIEVAL HEBREW. Why? AND NOW on the SIDE of ACCULTURATION: Gaon of Vilna represents a more traditional rabbinism. But if we move westward to Berlin—we will find a more modern scholar of enormous importance: MOSES MENDELSSOHN. Now do you remember how I emphases Maimonides in the medieval portion of this class? Let me do the same for Mendelssohn—for he was a hugely important figure in the Modern Jewish History movement. Basically, if you want to discuss the Modern Jewish Question—it doesn’t get bigger than Moses Mendelssohn. Mendelssohn: p. 118-119 Born in 1729- 1786: He is among the most profound of Rational Philosophers (Meaning you apply reason to all your theories and put that above all your other senses). and he encouraged the study of nontraditional subjects for spiritual and cultural developments. In other words, Jews did not just have to read the Torah, Mishnah, Talmud—they could read and be affected by other non-Jewish philosophers—authors etc… THIS WAS A PRETTY CONTROVERSAL position at a time when Judaism is attempting to survive in Diaspora. If we were to put it into today terms: literal use of the word NOT the political use—HE WAS LIBERAL. It’s like saying—a good idea is a good idea no matter the culture it was born out of. So we should read it all. Tell me more about him: What does he consider Judaism? A religion or ethnicity? Does he encourage decentralization of the Torah? AT THE SAME TIME: The Enlightenment: 1700s (18th century) This period of Mendelssohn’s life coincided with a larger period in History called “The Enlightenment” Does anyone know anything about this period. For the sake of time – I am going to keep this very short—but the Enlightenment period was a movement that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in Church and state. Major figures of the Enlightenment may be recognizable to you: VOCABULARY ALERT: Kant, Spinoza, Hume, and our guy Mendelssohn who was apart of the Jewish Enlightenment otherwise known as Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment) 5 And those individuals in the Jewish Enlightenment such as Mendelssohn (and later we will talk about Spinoza are called MASKILIM (or the Enlightened ones)! So do we have all that? If we were to simplify the position of these two men: Vilna of Gaon: Everything is in the Torah – it can solve even the most modern of problems if you look at it right. Mendelssohn: Everything is NOT in the Torah—you must use reason and EMPIRICAL DATA. Do you know what EMPIRICAL is? It is the kind of truth you can discover using your senses, observations, experiments. WHICH THE TORAH IS NOT. So for Mendelssohn what is the TORAH good for? Let’s look at his most famous work: Jerusalem – on CANVAS - What do you make of those pages? - What is he saying? - Benevolence? - Religion? - Public vs. Private matters 6 Week 12: Thursday, April 2nd ONLINE Reading to be covered today: - Fishbane: Chapter 4 (pp 114-132) - Folder of PDFs are available on myCourses: Read and Print for class: The Jew in the Modern World, “A Society for the Preservation of the Jewish People (1819),” “The Society for the Culture and Science of the Jews Statutes (1822),” and “A Society to Further Jewish Integration (1822).” - Selection from Mendelssohn, Jerusalem - GENESIS 12, 15, 17 - Schendlin p. 165-166 Let’s recap and summarize our goals moving forwardGoals for the week: 1. The Types of Judaism depending on Region (Ashkenazi vs Sephardic). Once we move beyond that, we need to break down the differences among Ashkenazi (setting Sephardic aside for now). 2. The question of Jewish Religion vs. Jewish Culture. Using the thinkers from our reading, we will be exploring the different aspects of this question. How? By putting each thinker through Fishbane’s large and 3 smaller questions GOAL 1: Understand The distinct world views of Ashkenazi Jews who settled in different regions. EAST vs. CENTRAL/WEST. • East: Gaon of Vilna (1720-1797) - Traditionalist - Refuses to assimilate or acculturate - Leaves a solitary - Low/High Criticism • Central: Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786) - Liberal thinker - Believes in Acculturation - Private vs. Public Life - State vs. Religion - Haskalah - Maskilim Keep in mind the terms! 1. Assimilation: the process whereby a minoritized group gradually adapts to the customs and attitudes of the prevailing culture and customs. 2. Acculturation: is the exchange of cultural features that results when groups of individuals having different cultures come into continuous first-hand contact; the original cultural patterns of either or both groups may be altered, but the groups remain distinct. It is easy to confuse Assimilation with Acculturation. Often we just interchange the two. But there is a difference, especially when discussing Jewish integration (you will find as we go on). Some Jews in certain parts of Europe flat out assimilate. Meaning they begin to lose their Jewishness and opt for a more European lifestyle (that would essentially make them what kind of Jews?). This is most noticeable among Central/Western Ashkenazi Jews (i.e. Germany, France etc…). While acculturation is not so drastic. It assumes you are affected by your environment, and you may adopt certain things into your own traditions—but you still maintain the integrity of your native home. This is best represented, at the moment, with Mendelssohn, who opted to retain major parts of his Jewishness (just not in public). Here we find most Jews adopt certain aspects of European culture just to work and survive, but mostly they maintain being Jewish by living in only Jewish communities and praying etc… in the usual fashion. GOAL #2 Understanding what it means to say Judaism is Culture and/or Religion: We are approaching this large question using Fishbane’s questions and Goal #1. Looking at thinkers and asking Fishbane’s three little questions in order to get to the big one. WHAT ARE THE LITTLE QUESTIONS? WHAT IS THE BIG ONE? For the most part, our East European thinkers will hold fast to their old world and traditions. In a traditional worldview, Judaism has to be what? A religion/culture or …. They will not assimilate on their own with ease—most will be done by force. For the most part, our Central and West European thinkers will assimilate or acculturate. So what is the worldview here. MUCH MORE COMPLICATED!! Religion? Culture? We will spend a good amount of time unpacking this one. Further into the question: Are you Jewish as a Culture? Or are you Jewish by Religion? If you stop practicing the Tradition—are you still considered a Jew? This will be covered extensively throughout the Modern period in many different formats. Ok so that was review—Any Questions??? ASK YOURSELF NOW—IF I WERE TO ADHERE TO GENESIS 12, 15, AND 17—WHAT WOULD I BELIEVE? Moving on… this is going to get a little complicated. I am going to go through it now, but we will end this section with a chart (today or tomorrow). Sidebar: This is where I usually stop and talk about a group called the Hasidim. I think that would be confusing now. So if it proves useful, we will double back. Otherwise, we will skip all questions pertaining to this group moving forward. Everything Below is in Chapter 4 of Fishbane—I am just explaining it in laypersons terms. More terms to know: 1. Yeshiva 2. Zion 3. Avodah 4. Aliyah New people we will cover: 1. Hayyim Nahman Bialik (1873-1934): Yeshiva/Zion 2. R. Abraham Isaac ha-Cohen Kook (1865-1935) Chief Ashkenazi Leader 3. Abraham Geiger (1810-1874): Liberal-Reform Judaism 4. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888): adversary of Geiger – advocates for “national religious consciousness” Back to Tradition vs. Acculturation: It’s tense, and although the Gaon of Vilna is called wretched and solemn by Mendelssohn and followers, the traditional view is not going to go down without a fight How do we keep each group relevant and their message out. A student of Vilna found a perfect path—start an academy. It worked before, right!! Remember when? (Hint/answer: School of Jamina with R. Zakki). The Yeshiva is born. A Yeshiva is a Rabbinic Academy (still exists today). One famous student from the Yeshiva Hayyim Nahman Bialik (1873-1934) • wrote poetry lamenting the fact that Jews had gotten so far off the path of the Torah. • He advocated everyone return back to the “homeland” now named Zion (refers to Jerusalem II Samuel 5:7) and rebuild the TEMPLE. • He is also credited for reviving the Hebrew language and having it be the Modern Hebrew we know today. Oh boy! Lot’s to unpack here. Look at the word you probably know—ZION! What do you think this will turn into? This is an incredibly smart move. If Gaon had to live in a room with no windows and refused to interact with Europeans because that is the only way to be Religiously and Culturally a Jew—then F- that, just go back to Jerusalem! Now it’s your duty. Bialik moves to Israel: ALIYAH • He eventually emigrated from Russia to Israel. He advocated that all Jews move and be dedicated to the service and work of the state • The term AVODAH (which used to mean shrinal ‘service’ as in temple/Scriptural work [study]). Now is being appropriated to mean physical labor or service to the land of Zion (Israel). • READ POEM A TWIST! Retrieval of the homeland was now in the works. Jews who emigrated to Israel were now out of Diaspora. But oddly the move wasn’t primarily a religious one. In fact, most moved more out of national pride. Different Jews with different points of views and reasons return. To make sense of the different viewpoints, leadership in the Land of Israel is established: R. Abraham Isaac ha-Cohen Kook (1865-1935): • Russian Born • Named the Ashkenazi chief rabbi of the land of Israel. • He often intervened when the debate between Secularists and Orthodox Jews got heated. Even though he was a traditionalist. Kook worked for unity—and the message he perpetuated was that they were all there for the love of Israel, whether it be religious or national pride. • Aim everyone toward one goal—cultivate the land and expand. Think of a problem that would arise when you have people going back for different reasons— Let’s take the Sabbath as an example. Or Hanukkah Meanwhile in Germany…. Above was one train of Ashkenazi behavior debate– with an end result that had Jews (both religious and secular) returning to Israel. Now we move in the opposite direction. We go to a debate arguing for Jews to assimilate to their European homes and drop all references to a return to Zion: Abraham Geiger (1810-1874): • Frankfurt am Main, GERMANY (still in the same country as Mendelssohn—but different time period). • Was a proponent of the movement called: Liberal-Reform Judaism Liberal-Reform Judaism: Liberal view that Judaism was an evolving religious civilization. It advocates that Jews stop thinking Nationalistically—and start thinking of Judaism strictly as a RELIGIOUS institution. Basically, he considers Judaism to be a religion among other religions that can live anywhere. For example: If you are Catholic you recognize yourself as “Catholic American” or if you lived in Italy you would be a “Catholic Italian”—while up until this point no one EVER said “I’m a German Jew” they said “I am a Jew who happens to live in Germany (even if I was born and raised there).” Geiger advocates being loyal to the nation of your birth and recognizing that as your nationality. He considered himself a German who was Jewish. He was able to advocate for this because of Jewish Emancipation of 1871 in France and later in Germany p. 165-166 Schendlin. If we show national pride to our European hosts we won’t be strangers in a strange land anymore—we will be emancipated and accepted. SIDE NOTE: Does that make sense to everyone because this is pretty complicated stuff? And we can spen ...
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Jewish Identity

Institution Affiliation


Jewish Identity
The emergence of a centralized state/ Absolute state in Europe from the sixteenth to the

eighteenth century marked the transition from medieval, feudal to modernity, which run through
the twentieth century (Mendes-Flohr & Reinharz, 1995). Following the Christian takeover and
the subsequent Christian expulsion, which even led to the execution of some Jews in Europe, the
population of Jews ran incredibly low at the beginning of the 18th century as there were around
one million Jews in Europe. However, following a diverse range of political, legal, and economic
transformation, the number of Jews rose significantly across the centuries, getting to
approximately seventeen million Jews by 1930.
In any case, the subject of Jewish identity is one of the most vexed and contested issues
of modern religion and era. It runs back to the late eighteenth century following the European
Enlightenment, which gave Jews, who previously were considered foreign and hence despised,
an opportunity to become citizens in their respective countries. Following this development, the
question by both Jews and non-Jews arose, seeking to understand who and what encompassed
Jews. Several approaches were taken while dealing with this question in this era, as it shall be
discussed herein.
First of all, the modern era dealt with the question of Jewish identity by trying to
redefine it through integration. In this case, integration refers to the acceptance of the minority
group by the mainstream society; in other words, acceptance. The redefinition of the Jewish
identity in this context required for the awareness of ambiguous attitudes of the European society
in which the acceptance and the rejection of the Jews were mixed (Friesel, 2011). However, the
drive to integrate them were led by the inspirations by the highly sophisticated communal beings.


The subsequent synthesis between the external and the internal factors and influences would,
after that, be expressed in the evolved Jewish identity.

The modern era further dealt with the question of identity through questioning the entities
of Judaism, focusing on whether it is a religion or a culture in which one is born into. The
exploration of these questions further generated the concept of singular Jewish identity, an
essential foundation in understanding the differences between the two. The idea requires
uniformity for all the Jews irrespective of the geographical location they are situated in.
In consequence, it was mainly raised by the Ashkenazi Jews following difficulties in
connection with their counterparts across Europe, which, in turn, interfered with their Jewish life.
The shedding of light into the topic is done through the use of philosophical basing, whereby the
analysis of different changes during and after enlightenment was done and the implications of
these changes in the lives of people, in comparison to those not affected by the changes were
done. A study on the lives of different Jews living within the time frame creates a more in-depth
Jewish Diaspora and Identity
The Jewish diaspora entails dispersion of Jews from their ancestral land resulting in
settling in other countries. While the initial definition of diaspora covered the Jews that
voluntarily opted to remain in their respective countries even after the directive by Cyrus the
Persian to return home, the definition changed in the modern period to galut as Jews argued that
the exile was involuntary, rendering the following activities forceful. Nevertheless, similar to
their counterparts at home, Jewish identity played a central role in defining both societies and



individual’s ways of life and believes. As a result, the construction of this identity while in the
diaspora was essential in guiding how they lived and associated with others.
As aforementioned, the Jewish diaspora plays a s...

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