As I plan to go onto rabbinical school after I finish my history undergraduate degree, Holocaust and Genocide studies plays a vital role in understanding the world and Judaism today. Having been one of the most horrific displays of inhumanity in modern history, the Holocaust was a milestone in the progression of the civilized world to agree upon what is and is not an infraction upon human rights. All throughout history, there are examples of one culture group attempting to subjugate or destroy another culture they deemed inferior; The Armenian genocide, the Spanish Inquisition, the removal and confinement of Native Americans by European and American settlers, and the treatment of Africans in the slave trade. When the Aryan’s conquered Indian, they created the caste system in Hinduism, “It is an ancient system that the Aryans used to subjugate the local Dravidian population.”[1] After generations of atrocities, the United Nations established international laws that attempt to protect every human being, “It represents the universal recognition that basic rights and fundamental freedoms are inherent to all human beings, inalienable and equally applicable to everyone, and that every one of us is born free and equal in dignity and rights.”[2]When Hitler accumulated all of these atrocities into one major well-oiled process, the world came together to try and stop anything like that from happening again.

Being the most direct and obvious target of the Holocaust, Jews began to question the sacred covenant between G-d and Jews. The covenant is a holy contract between G-d and the Jewish people that states that by living by his laws and honoring him, G-d will be the protector and provider of the Jewish people. If G-d failed to protect his chosen people, why should they continue to honor and revere him? By tracing Jewish history, there is a recurring pattern that the Jews follow that coincides with the holocaust and the years after, “God was our Provider and Protector. Even though bad things would happen to His people–which [were seen] as the justified result of our failure to honor Him and the way of life He presented to us–periods of oppression would always be followed by salvation, and eventually the persecution-ending, exile-gathering, peace-bringing redemption would occur.”[3]Although the Jewish population around the world is still recovering from the devastation caused by the holocaust, Judaism is beginning to prosper like never before through the connection of their ancient home in the modern state of Israel.

[1]Mrkirschner, “Explain the Caste System in India. ,” Enotes.com, May 10, 2016, , accessed October 01, 2018, https://www.enotes.com/homework-help/explain-caste-system-india-581768.

 

[2]“The Foundation of International Human Rights Law,” United Nations, , accessed October 01, 2018, http://www.un.org/en/sections/universal-declaration/foundation-international-human-rights-law/index.html.

 

[3]Lesli Koppelman Ross, “How the Holocaust Challenged Faith,” My Jewish Learning, , accessed October 01, 2018, https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/how-the-holocaust-challenged-faith/.


My name is Andrew Yaunches. I am an American Jew who is studying history. I am deeply connected to my heritage and I seek to understand and uncover the truths of the darkest days in not only Jewish history, but the history of us as humanity as a whole.