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Have “Many Lies Accumulated in History Books”? - The Holocaust in Ashkenazi Haredi Historical Consciousness in Israel

Kimmy Caplan

  1. Mordechai Neugershal, “The Holocaust, Judaism from a Different Angle,” Jerusalem, undated. Videocassette, PRC, VT 439. On silence as the preferred option, see Haim Yisrael Zimmerman, Tamim Po’alo: Responsa Concerning the Horrific Annihilation of the Six Million Jews, May God Avenge Their Blood (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: n.p., 1947), pp. 5–11.
  2. Two remarks on the parameters of this study: (1) The attitude of contemporary Sephardi Haredim toward the Holocaust requires a discussion that is beyond the scope of this article. (2) It is important to compare the remarks cited here with the copious Holocaust-related material published over the past generation in American Haredi circles, especially in light of the widely held Haredi view, that the messages of Orthodoxy are unaffected by geographical and other variables.
  3. On Sofer, see Jacob Katz, Divine Law in Human Hands: Case Studies in Halakhic Flexibility (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1998), pp. 403-444.
  4. See, inter alia, Jacob Katz, Halacha in Straits: Obstacles to Orthodoxy at its Inception (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1992); Jacob Katz, “Orthodoxy in Historical Perspective” Studies in Contemporary Jewry, 2 (1986), pp. 3–17; Moshe Samet, “The Beginnings of Orthodoxy,” Modern Judaism, vol. 8, no. 3 (1988), pp. 249–270.
  5. Various studies on Haredi society explore these aspects directly or indirectly. See, for example, Tamar Elor, Educated and Ignorant: Ultraorthodox Jewish Women and Their World (Boulder, CO: L. Rienner, 1994); Menachem Friedman, The Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) Society: Sources, Trends, and Processes (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, 1991); Samuel C. Heilman, Defenders of the Faith: Inside Ultra-Orthodox Jewry (New York: Schocken, 1992); Samuel C. Heilman and Menachem Friedman, “Religious Fundamentalism and Religious Jews: The Case of the Haredim,” Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby, eds., Fundamentalisms Observed (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1991), pp. 197–265.
  6. See, for example, David Assaf, The Regal Way: The Life and Times of R. Israel of Ruzhin (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Zalman Shazar Center, 1997), pp. 24–33; Jacob Barnai, “The Relationship of Jewish Orthodox Historiography to Sabbatianism,” (Hebrew), Contemporary Jewry, 9 (1995), pp. 19–42; Ada Rapoport-Albert, “Hagiography with Footnotes: Edifying Tales and the Writing of History in Hasidism,” History and Theory 27 (1988), pp. 119–159; Israel Bartal, “True Knowledge and Wisdom: On Orthodox Historiography,” Studies in Contemporary Jewry 10 (1994), pp. 178–192.
  7. For a few references, see David Assaf, “Yesod Ha-Ma’ala: A New Chapter in the Historiography of Hasidism in Eretz Israel” (Hebrew), Cathedra, 68 (1993), pp. 57–66; Kimmy Caplan, “Haredi Society in Israel and Its Attitude Toward the Holocaust—A Re-Reading” (Hebrew), Alpayim 17 (1999), pp. 176–208.
  8. For a general remark on this matter, see Assaf, The Regal Way, p. 25, note 22. On the importance of internal tensions in relations among the various groups’ approaches to Zionism and their response to the Holocaust, see Dina Porat, “‘Amalek’s Accomplices’, Blaming Zionism for the Holocaust: Anti-Zionist Ultra-Orthodoxy in Israel during the 1980s,” Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 27, no. 4 (1992), pp. 695-735.
  9. Menachem Friedman, “The Haredim and the Holocaust,” The Jerusalem Quarterly, 53 (1990), p. 86.
  10. Examples are Yechiel Granatstein’s numerous and widely distributed books. They include Lights from the Gloom (Jerusalem: Kiryat Sefer, 1959); Grandeur and Heroism: The Radoszicer Rebbe in Piotrków, the Martyr Rabbi Isaac Samuel Elijah Finkler (Jerusalem: Zekher Naftali Institute, 1987); and Contact with the Soul (Jerusalem: Pe’er, 1994) (all in Hebrew).
  11. For discussion of the characteristics of Haredi children’s literature, see Yossi Villian, “Main Motives in Children’s Stories in the Haredi World,” Ma’agaley Qeriya, 22 (1994), pp. 43–68; and Leah Hovav, “Haredi Children’s Literature—Realistic or Didactic?” Children’s and Youth Literature, 20 (3-4) (1994), pp. 20–35 (both in Hebrew).
  12. For a comprehensive methodological discussion on exploring popular religion and beliefs, see David D. Hall, Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgment: Popular Religious Belief in Early New England (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989), pp. 3–21.
  13. See Caplan, “Haredi Society in Israel and Its Attitude Toward the Holocaust,” pp. 179–181. For an expanded discussion, see Porat, “Amalek’s Accomplices,” and Friedman, “The Haredim and the Holocaust,” pp. 86-105. For a discussion of Haredi literature since the 1980s that makes “no reference to Zionism,” see Judith Tydor-Baumel, “Responses to the Uprising in the Haredi World,” (Hebrew), Dapim le-Heker Tekufat ha-Shoah 12 (1995), p. 307.
  14. See Haim Nirel, The Haredim and the Holocaust: Ultra-Orthodox Accusations of Zionist Responsibility for the Holocaust (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Carmel, 1997), pp. 72–108; Meir Sompolinsky, “Jewish Institutions in the World and the Yishuv as Reflected in the Holocaust Historiography of the Ultra-Orthodox,” Yisrael Gutman and Gideon Grief, eds., The Historiography of the Holocaust Period: Proceedings of the Fifth Yad Vashem International Historical Conference (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1988), pp. 609-631. In contrast, Amos Goldberg, “The Holocaust in the Ultra Orthodox Press” (Hebrew), Contemporary Jewry 11–12 (1998), pp. 182–194, found that blaming Zionism is not always at the forefront of the discussion.
  15. To the best of my knowledge, Kahaneman has been overlooked in scholarly research. For a Haredi three-volume book about him, see Aharon Sorasky, The Rabbi from Ponevezh: Chapters in the Life and Endeavors of Rabbi Joseph Kahaneman (Hebrew) (Bene Beraq: Lithuanian Jewry Historical Institute, 1999).
  16. For a discussion of Hutner’s approach, see Yaffa Eliach, “The Holocaust - A Response to Catastrophe Within a Traditional Jewish Framework,” Gutman and Greif, eds., The Historiography of the Holocaust Period, pp. 722-726; Dan Michman, “The Impact of the Holocaust on Religious Jewry,” Yisrael Gutman, ed., Major Changes within the Jewish People in the Wake of the Holocaust (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1996), pp. 699-701. See also Goldberg, “The Holocaust in the Ultra Orthodox Press,” pp. 163–167, 196–198; Mendel Piekarz, Ideological Trends of Hasidism in Poland During the Interwar Period and the Holocaust (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Bialik Institute, 1990), pp. 349–353; and David G. Roskies, Against the Apocalypse: Responses to Catastrophe in Modern Jewish Culture (Cambridge, MA, and London: Harvard University Press, 1984), p. 261.
  17. To the best of my knowledge, there is no comprehensive biographical study of this man and his endeavors. For several important aspects, see Heilman and Friedman, “Religious Fundamentalism and Religious Jews,” pp. 229–233; Lawrence Kaplan, “Hazon Ish: Critic of Traditional Orthodoxy” Jack Wertheimer, ed., The Uses of Tradition: Jewish Continuity in the Modern Era (New York and Jerusalem: The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1992), pp. 145–174. In contrast, the Haredim have produced ramified literature on the Hazon Ish, which requires a separate discussion.
  18. See Collection of Letters from Our Master, the Late Author of Hazon Ish, of Sainted and Holy Memory (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: published by Rabbi Shmuel Greiniman, 1955), Letter 97, pp. 113–114; Shlomo Cohen (chairman of the editorial board), Pe’er Hador: Chapters in the Life-Work and Endeavors of the Master of Our Generation, Our Master, Rabbi Abraham Isaiah Karelitz of Sainted Memory, Author of Hazon Ish (Hebrew) (Bene Beraq: n.p., 1967– 1974), vol. 3, pp. 123–127. Haredi references to the Holocaust and its commemoration often cite this letter. For a different rationale for the opposition to stipulating a day of remembrance, see Yaakov Avigdor, Jacob’s Portion (Hebrew) (New York: n.p., 1950), Introduction, pp. VII– VIII.
  19. See A Whirling Storm—Lecture on Ethics by Our Master, Rabbi Eliezer Menachem Shach, (Hebrew) PRC 170-XXXII-58. The lecture was published in the weekend supplement of Yated Ne’eman, December 26, 1990, pp. 4–6. See also Michman, “The Impact of the Holocaust on Religious Jewry,” p. 685, note 62; Aharon Yeshaya Roter, Sha’arey Aharon—The Concealed and the Revealed: A Personal Diary from the Holocaust Era About the Extermination Camps in Transnistria (Hebrew) (Bene Beraq, published by the author, 1998), pp. 171–172. Rabbi Shakh is another personality about whom no study exists.
  20. Notably, this outlook leads to many attempts to diagnose and define the sins for which this punishment was exacted, on the basis of the rule mida ke-neged mida (“punishment befitting the sin”). Some blame the Haskalah, the Jewish Reform movement in Germany, Zionism (see below), or various other misdeeds. This, however, is a topic for another article.
  21. See A. Newman, On Torah and on Change (London: Anthony Rowe Ltd., 1992), pp. 69–70. These and similar remarks appear in both Chabad sources and those of Chabad’s opponents.
  22. See Yoel Schwartz and Yitshak Goldstein, Shoah: A Jewish Perspective on Tragedy in the Context of the Holocaust (Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1990), pp. 16–17.
  23. See, for example, Roni Rafael Arikha, The Riddle of Life: Inquiries in Matters of Faith and the Most Exalted Issues in a Language and Style Suitable for Our Contemporaries (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Kest-Leibovich Library, 1977), pp. 82–89; Schwartz and Goldstein, Shoah, pp. 34–38; and Moshe Sternbuch, Know How to Respond: A Collection of Discussions on Issues of Faith, Outlook, Ethics, Education of the Young, and Other Matters (Hebrew) (Jerusalem and Johannesburg: Vilna Gaon Torah Center Community, 1997), pp. 34–43.
  24. See Ruth Lichtenstein, Testimony: The Destruction of European Jewry (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Rabbi Isaac Meir Levin Institute, 2000), Introduction, p. 14. See also Roter, Sha’arey Aharon, Introduction, pp. 2, 163.
  25. See, for example, Meir Shcharansky, The Israeli Past: Jewish History from the Return to Zion and the Building of Jerusalem to the Present Day (Hebrew) (Tel Aviv: Beit Yaakov, 1946–1972), eight volumes, and especially the introduction to the first volume.
  26. Rivka Shatz, “Confession on the Threshold of the Crematoria and an ‘Afterward’ ” (Hebrew), Kivunim, 23 (1984), pp. 49–63, esp. pp. 61–62.
  27. For recent summations of studies on this issue, see Dalia Ofer, “Fifty Years After: The Yishuv, Zionism, and the Holocaust, 1933–1948,” Gutman, ed., Major Changes, pp. 463–496; Anita Shapira, “The History of Mythology—Outlines of Historiography on Ben-Gurion and the Holocaust” (Hebrew), Alpayim, 18 (1999), pp. 24–53.
  28. See for example, Yosef Avraham Wolf, The Era and Its Problems (Hebrew), vol. 2 (Bene Beraq: Rabbi Y. A. Wolf Memorial Publishing House, 1982), p. 13; Aharon Rosenberg, The Shepherds’ Tents: Great Anthology of the Great Jewish Rabbis/Shepherds in Regard to Zionists, Zionism, Agudath [Israel], Their State, Hebrew, Elections, Separatism, Acceptance of Funds, Etc., and Our Duty (Hebrew), 2 (New York: n.p., 1985), pp. 802-820; and, in a different tenor, Abraham Fuchs, The Unheeded Cry: The Gripping Story of Rabbi Weissmandl, the Valiant Holocaust Leader who Battled both Allied Indifference and Nazi Hatred (Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1984). See also Michman, “The Impact of the Holocaust on Religious Jewry” p. 701.
  29. For several accusations, see M. Waselman, The Mark of Cain: Remarks on the Affair of Failed Rescues, Helplessness, and Obtuse Indifference of the World Zionist Leadership and the Jewish Agency During the Years of Holocaust and Devastation, 1939–1945 (Hebrew) (Tel Aviv: n.p., 1989), pp. 17–62; Roter, Sha’arey Aharon, p. 198.
  30. See, for example, Shaul Gur-Arieh, The House of the Righteous Will Endure: Story of the Rescue of the Saintly Brothers, the Holy Rebbe Aharon of Belz and the Holy Sage Rebbe Mordechai of Bilgoraj May Their Merit Protect Us, from the Talons of the Nazi Beast (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Or ha-Tsafon, 1980), p. 11.
  31. Shabtai B. Beit-Zvi, Post-Ugandan Zionism in the Crucible of the Holocaust: A Study of the Causes of the Zionist Movement’s Errors in 1938–1945 (Hebrew) (Tel Aviv: Bronfman, 1977); Tom Segev, The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust (New York: Hill and Wang, 1993). Beit-Zvi contributed some of his remarks to Haredi publications. See his article, “Sin and Its Punishment,” Zakhor: Collection of Documentation on Utmost Devotion in the Vale of Killing (Hebrew) (Bene Beraq: n.p., 1981), pp. 158–161. In regard to these sources, see Ofer, “Fifty Years After,” pp. 470–471. Popular Haredi literature often cites the Hebrew edition of Ben Hecht, Perfidy (Hebrew) (Tel Aviv: Defus Yisrael, 1970) —a matter that requires separate discussion.
  32. Lichtenstein, Testimony, p. 420, chapter on “Rescue,” note 11. See also Schwartz and Goldstein, Shoah, pp. 248–251; S. Salmon, The Crimes of Zionism in the Destruction of the Diaspora (Hebrew) (Tel Aviv: published by the author, 1990), pp. 4, 45, 54, 125.
  33. Yechiel Granatstein, The Other Heroism: The Religious Jew in Struggle of Heroism and Uprising Against the Nazis’ Decrees During the Holocaust Years (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Zekher Naftali Institute, 1988); Moshe Prager, Those Who Never Yielded: The History of the Chassidic Rebel Movement in the Ghettos of German Occupied Poland (Brooklyn: Lightbooks, 1980); Idem, Sparks of Glory: Inspiring Episodes of Jewish Spiritual Resistance (Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1985); Moshe Schoenfeld, The Crematoria Victims Accuse: Documents, Papers, and Testimonies About Jewish Holocaust Criminals (Hebrew) (Bene Beraq: Agudath Israel Youth, 1975, second edition; further editions: 1976, 1978). Importantly, the quantity of historical studies on the Holocaust in the 1960s was very small; the momentum to produce such publications did not begin until the 1970s.
  34. Waselman, Mark of Cain.
  35. See Caplan, “Haredi Society in Israel and Its Attitude Toward the Holocaust,” pp. 187–188.
  36. Salmon, Crimes of Zionism (Hebrew).
  37. For example, the episodes discussed in Waselman’s book, Mark of Cain, correspond partly to those discussed in Yehuda Bauer’s Jews for Sale?: Nazi-Jewish Negotiations, 1933–1945 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1994), which is based partly on articles published in the 1970s.
  38. Examples of English installments: “Holland,” Hamodia, December 4, 1998; “The Yishuv’s Reaction to the Holocaust,” ibid., October 22, 1999 (continued on October 29 and November 5); and “Salonika: Jerusalem of the Balkans,” ibid., June 25, 1999 (continued on July 2 and July 9).
  39. Lichtenstein, Testimony, pp. 309–321. Although Lichtenstein is American-Haredi, her book should be discussed here because it was written in Hebrew and is aimed mainly at Haredim in Israel. When the American Haredi mainstream publishes such literature, as well as children’s and worldview literature, it usually does so in English.
  40. Ibid., Parts A–B.
  41. “Remember the Days of Old,” ibid., pp. 120–139.
  42. Ibid., pp. 411–417.
  43. Yisrael Gutman, ed., Encyclopedia of the Holocaust (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1990), vol. 4, pp. 1751–1758. The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, for example, describes the Bund as a “Jewish socialist, non-Zionist organization,” whereas Lichtenstein (p. 411) depicts it as an “assimilationist socialist Jewish organization.” For a rare case of a Haredi memoir that explains concepts, see Arye Yehuda Merlich, Havdala Candle: Biography from the Years of Terror in the Vale of Tears (Hebrew) (Ra’anana, Israel: privately published, 2000), pp. 222–233.
  44. Lichtenstein, Testimony, p. 422.
  45. Interestingly, Rashid Ali el-Kilani, the revolutionary leader of Iraq after April 1, 1941, appears in both indexes.
  46. The general picture is compatible with that in Units 3 (Yehiam Weitz) and 5 (Dan Michman) of the course “In the Days of Holocaust and Punishment” (Hebrew) (Tel Aviv: The Open University of Israel, 1984), but overlooks Unit 2 (Dan Michman), even though this unit was presumably available to the author.
  47. See Lichtenstein, Testimony, pp. 216–232; and Dina Spiegel, The Destruction of European Jewry: Comprehensive Historical Survey and Worldview Articles (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Neve Yerushalayim Girls’ Semianry, 1999 [expanded second edition. First edition: 1988]), pp. 100– 107. For a discussion on the behavior of the rescue committee of the Agudat Ha-rabanim of the United States and Canada, see Efraim Zuroff, The Response of Orthodox Jewry in the United States to the Holocaust: The Activities of the Vaad ha-Hatzala Rescue Committee, 1939-1945 (Hoboken: Ktav, 1999).
  48. Nathan Cohen, “Diaries of the Sonderkommandos in Auschwitz: Coping with Fate and RealityYad Vashem Studies, 20 (1990), pp. 273–312.
  49. Lichtenstein, Testimony, p. 301. For one of many manifestations of this cooperation, see Emanuel Frieder, To Save Their Souls: The Struggle of a Young Rabbi During the Holocaust (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1986).
  50. Lichtenstein, Testimony, pp. 331–336, especially p. 334.
  51. See, for example, Schwartz and Goldstein, Shoah.
  52. See, for example, Bina Greenwald, Lights from Darkness (Hebrew), (Jerusalem: privately published, 1998), and the two appendices on “Hungarian Jewry” and “Remarks on Information in Hungary During the Years of World War II.” For a different approach, see Roter, Sha’arey Aharon. The nature of memoirs of Haredi Jews, which have been published at an increasing pace in recent years, is exceedingly diverse and requires specific research. See, inter alia, Yitshak Hadar, The People Escaped from the Sword (Jerusalem: n.p., 1990); and Yosef Yehuda Levy, That You May Recount It-to a Future Age (Bene Beraq, privately published, 1996) (both in Hebrew).
  53. Waselman, Mark of Cain, Introduction.
  54. See also Elazar Halevi Shulsinger’s sweeping and acrid rhetoric in, In the Shepherds’ Tents (Hebrew) (Bene Beraq: privately published, 1988), pp. 84, 149–155.
  55. For several examples, see Yehoshua Uziel Zilberberg, The Kingdom of the House of David (on the Sochaczower Rebbe) (Bene Beraq: privately published, 1991); Menashe Miller, Alive and Blessed, in the Vale of Tears (on the Vizhnitser Rebbe) (Haifa: Mekor ha-Beracha Institute, 1993); Aharon Sorasky, The Flaming Torch (on the Klausenberger Rebbe) (Bene Beraq: Yeheskel Shraga Frankel, 1997) (all in Hebrew).
  56. These Will I Remember: Historical Anthology on the Martyrs of 1939–1945 (Hebrew) (New York: Institute for Study of the Problems of Haredi Jewry, 1956–1972).
  57. Abraham Mordechai Alter, Poland’s Roads are in Mourning, The Story of Destroyed Polish Jewry (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Zekher Naftali Institute, 1987), 2 parts. This book, evidently meant for Haredi people who visit in Europe, is devoid of any historical context or discussion of the Holocaust, except for a few notes in the chapters on the ghettos and the camps. According to the president of the Institute, A. C. Carlebach, in the introduction, the purpose of the book is to give “living testimony and remembrance and [create a] legacy that will last a thousand years for the rebbes, tsadikim, towering religious scholars, and a myriad of Jewish brethren who were ensnared in the Nazi trap and destroyed from under God’s firmament, may God avenge their blood.”
  58. Encyclopedia Shema Yisrael: To Document and Commemorate Acts of Utmost Devotion in the Years of Rage, 1939–1945, in the Ghettos, Labor Camps, Concentration Camps, and Extermination Camps (Hebrew), vol. 1 (Bene Beraq: Shema Yisrael Institute, 1997). For more on methods of memorializing the destroyed Haredi world, see Sarah Kaplan, “Haredi Remembrance” (Hebrew) (Graduate Seminar Paper, Institute of Contemporary Jewry, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1998). I thank Kaplan for her permission to use her work.
  59. See, for example, “Candles in the Ghetto,” Sihat Ha-shavu’a, 362, weekly portion Mi-qets, December 10, 1993; and “Only Mine,” ibid., 364, weekly portion Va-yehi, December 24, 1993, among many others.
  60. See, for example, “Rabbi Yosef Asher Polak,” Toda’a, 149, weekly portion Toledot, 1993; “Rabbi Shmuel Pondiler,” ibid., 153, weekly portion Mi-qets, 1993; among many others.
  61. Notably, however, the preoccupation with Zionism, the Yishuv, and the “lambs to the slaughter” issue has diminished perceptibly, corresponding to the presentation of alternative heroism accounts in some Haredi literature published in recent years. Lichtenstein, for example, devotes only about ten pages to these matters (Testimony, pp. 293–301, 306–309), whereas in Spiegel, The Destruction of European Jewry, there are onlys four pages (pp. 183–187). Roter, too, in Sha’arey Aharon, devotes only a few pages to this topic.
  62. Notably, however, the preoccupation with Zionism, the Yishuv, and the “lambs to the slaughter” issue has diminished perceptibly, corresponding to the presentation of alternative heroism accounts in some Haredi literature published in recent years. Lichtenstein, for example, devotes only about ten pages to these matters (Testimony, pp. 293–301, 306–309), whereas in Spiegel, The Destruction of European Jewry, there are onlys four pages (pp. 183–187). Roter, too, in Sha’arey Aharon, devotes only a few pages to this topic.
  63. See Binyamin Minz, Selected Writings (Hebrew), Gershon Harpenes, ed., A (Tel Aviv: Poalei Agudat Israel, 1977), pp. 300–308.
  64. Ibid., p. 302. Part of Minz’s comment is a paraphrase of the Shema Yisrael (Hear O Israel) prayer.
  65. Ibid., p. 303.
  66. Ibid., pp. 305–306.
  67. Ibid., p. 306. Concerning Prager’s doubts about “the credibility of the first reports from Europe,” see Goldberg, “The Holocaust in the Ultra Orthodox Press,” p. 190.
  68. Ibid., p. 307.
  69. For various accounts on the history of this seminary and its influence on the image of the Haredi woman, see Deborah Weissman, “The Education of Religious Girls in Jerusalem during the Period of British Rule” (Ph.D. diss., The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1993); Menachem Friedman, The Haredi Woman (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, 1988); Friedman, “The Ultra-Orthodox Woman,” Yael Azmon, ed., A View into the Lives of Women in Jewish Societies: Collected Essays (Jerusalem: Zalman Shazar Center, 1995), pp. 276-287 (all in Hebrew).
  70. To the best of my knowledge, no study has been conducted on the many changes that have occurred in the teaching of history at the Beit Yaakov Seminary. For example, Shcharansky, The Israeli Past, deserves painstaking research. The author was the principal of the Beit Yaakov Girls’ School and Teachers’ Seminary in Tel Aviv. Volume 8 of Shcharansky’s opus ends with the unification of Germany in 1871. The author intended to write two additional volumes on the period from the late nineteenth century up to “The State of Israel and Its Problems in Our Time,” but died in 1973.
  71. Spiegel, The Destruction of European Jewry.
  72. His letters of approbation appear rather frequently in popular Haredi literature. For some details about him, see Esther Farbstein, “Letters from Vilna on Matters of Rescue” (Hebrew), Mikhlol: Studies in Judaism, Education, and Science, 9 (1995), pp. 75–96.
  73. Deuteronomy 32:7—“Remember the days of old, consider the years of ages past; ask your father, he will inform you, your elders, they will tell you” —is a key verse in any Jewish religious approach to pre-planned historical consciousness.
  74. The chapter on “Stages of Occupation and Extermination” is twenty-two pages long (pp. 70– 92); the expanded Appendix takes forty-six pages (pp. 137–183).
  75. In comparison with Lichtenstein, who devoted most of the introduction to her book to this topic, see “The Destruction of European Jewry through the Prism of TorahTestimony, pp. 22–48, to which sixteen unnumbered pages were added with photographs of rabbis, Hasidic rebbes, leading rabbinical authorities, and leaders from Europe, some of whom were killed and some who survived.
  76. “Editor’s Introduction,” Spiegel, The Destruction of European Jewry, p. 6.
  77. This book, which has about half as many pages as Lichtenstein’s, has nine maps; see ibid., pp. 2, 27, 39, 62, 139, 157, 169, 180, 182.
  78. Ibid., p. 38.
  79. She explains the term Aktion, for example, by defining it as a “cruel action,” and refers to Der Stürmer as the organ that published “the horrifying anti-Jewish propaganda.”
  80. Ibid., pp. 58–59.
  81. Ibid., pp. 100–107. The second half of the chapter, “Examples of Rescue from the Destruction,” describes additional Haredi rescue operations only.
  82. Ibid., pp. 70–92.
  83. Ibid., pp. 72–74. Compare with Lichtenstein, Testimony, pp. 174–216. Similarly, Spiegel devotes about one page (82–83) to Greece, as compared to Lichtenstein’s seventeen pages (260–277). Spiegel gives the Netherlands one page (78–79); Lichtenstein thirteen pages (232–245).
  84. Spiegel, The Destruction of European Jewry, p. 59. See also Schwartz and Goldstein, Shoah, pp. 178-186. Cf. Aharon Weiss, The Jewish Police in the “General Gouvernement” and Upper Silesia during the Holocaust (Hebrew), Ph.D. Dissertation (Jerusalem: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1973), pp. 281–291, 362–374. It is worth noting the assertion in certain extreme Haredi sources that some kapos, who, they allege, were lapsed observant Jews, subsequently became Jewish Agency officials in Israel. See Abraham Eliyahu Stranger, “From the Nazis to Jewish Agency Officials” (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: n.p., 1993).
  85. Spiegel, The Destruction of European Jewry, p. 56. Studies on scientists elicit a much more complex picture. See, for example, Benno Müller-Hill, Murderous Science: Elimination by Scientific Selection of Jews, Gypsies, and Others, Germany 1933-1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988).
  86. T. Kahan and R. Schoenfeld, “Remember the Years of Ages Past”: The Destruction of European Jewry (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Masoret Institute, 1995).
  87. Ibid., pp. 33–35.
  88. Ibid., pp. 58–79. This may be due to the authors’ reliance on literary sources and the fact that their father experienced the Holocaust as a child and strongly emphasizes his childhood experience when he speaks about that era.
  89. These details are important in understanding her status in Haredi society and in the other realms with which she interacts. They are not meant to express praise or criticism of her studies or her educational endeavors, but rather to attempt to gauge the nature of a process in which, to the best of my understanding, she is a leading figure, and to assess several of its aspects. Diverse information from Haredi sources points to the importance of this enterprise and the inroads it has made, in various ways, in broad Haredi educational circles.
  90. Esther Farbstein, The Rescue of Hasidic Leaders in the Holocaust Era (Hebrew) (Masters Thesis, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1984). In the cassette “Hasidut ba-Shoah” (“Hasidism in the Holocaust”), Farbstein explains her guidelines in writing the thesis and stresses the clash between her approach and that of “Dr. Piekarz’s book On Hasidism in the Holocaust, which you may have heard of, [which] examines matters from the outside … from a different stance [and] from different sources.” In her opinion, “there is objectivity in history; evidently [Piekarz] is not objective and neither am I, but each one tries his own way.”
  91. See Esther Farbstein, “On Diaries and Memoirs as a Historical Source: The Diary and Memoir of a Rabbi at the ‘Konin House of Bondage’,” Yad Vashem Studies 26 (1998), pp. 87- 128.
  92. See “The Four Cubits of Halakha—In the Company of Writings of a Community Rabbi in the Holocaust Era: Rabbinical Rulings and Halakha in the Writings of Rabbi Aronson” (Hebrew), Sinai, 117 (1996), pp. 235–260 (second part: ibid., 118 [1996], pp. 43–70).
  93. See, for example, “Some Remarks on the Rescue of the Belzer Rebbe” (Hebrew), Bi-sede hemed, 41 (3) (1998), pp. 41–50; “Letters from Vilna”; “‘It is for Your Sake that We Are Slain’— Intention in the Act of Martyrdom in the Holocaust” (Hebrew), Mikhlol: Studies in Judaism, Education, and Science, 16 (1998), pp. 42–81.
  94. H. B., “Listen to Me, Daughter. Don’t Go to Glean in Another Field” [cf. Ruth 2:8] (Hebrew), Hamodia, January 24, 1997, p. 7. In the past few years, members of the Yad Vashem staff have been invited to lecture to Haredi women teachers within the framework of in-service training sponsored by the Haredi Education Division of the Municipality of Jerusalem.
  95. "Religious steadfastness during the Holocaust: Didactic Suggestions—Sources for Workshop,” December 1996, PRC 50-XXXII-170; “Religious Steadfastness during the Holocaust: Documentation, Testimonies and Memoirs, and Articles,” material for bibliographic test as part of course on “Ghettos—Comparative Study,” The Center for Holocaust Research and Teaching, Mikhlalah, 1996. This publication includes three parts: “Materials that Survived from the Holocaust Era,” “Collections of Testimonies,” and “Articles.”
  96. Farbstein, “Hasidism in the Holocaust.
  97. The second part of her lecture, “Hasidism in the Holocaust,” is structured similarly.
  98. On the methodological problems in using responsa as historical sources and the importance of sociohistorical context in understanding them, see Haym Soloveitchik, The Use of Responsa as Historical Source: A Methodological Introduction (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Zalman Shazar Center, 1990)
  99. However, she does not call attention to the complicated methodological problems that arise in the use of these sources, such as the authenticity of the material, the extent of its credibility, and its provenance in time. For a discussion of these matters, see Meir Eyali, “Responsa Literature from the Holocaust Era” (Hebrew), Bitzaron, 11[49-51, new series] (1992), pp. 131-142; Alexander Guttmann, “Humane Insights of the Rabbis Particularly with Respect to the Holocaust: A Chapter in the History of the Halakhah” Hebrew Union College Annual 46 (1975), pp. 433–457.
  100. In regard to his religious identity, see Goldberg, “The Holocaust in the Ultra Orthodox Press,” p. 169, note 31.
  101. See Mendel Piekarz, “Remarks on Testimony Literature as a Historical Source on the Decrees of the ‘Final Solution’” (Hebrew), Kivunim, 20 (1983), pp. 129–158. Piekarz points to a similar phenomenon in the writings of Chaike Grosman and Tuvia Bozikowski. Farbstein, in “Diaries and Memoirs as a Historical Source,” argues against the implications of this attitude toward the status of testimonies and memoirs.
  102. Yaffa Eliach, “Jewish Tradition in the Life of the Concentration Camp Inmate,” Yisrael Gutman and Avital Saf, eds., The Nazi Concentration Camps: Proceedings of the Fourth Yad Vashem International Historical Conference (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1984), pp. 195-207; Dan Michman, The Holocaust and Holocaust Research: Conceptualization, Terminology and Basic Issues (Hebrew) (Tel Aviv: Moreshet, Ghetto Fighters’ House, and Yad Vashem, 1998), pp. 211–224.
  103. Farbstein, “Letters from Vilna”; “The Four Cubits of Rabbinical Law”; Penina Feig, “Rabbinical Rulings on Selections During the Holocaust,” Shana be-Shana (Hebrew) (1991), pp. 321–340; Gershon Kitzis, “Rabbi Klonymus of Piaseczno Converses with His Maker” (Hebrew), Mahanaim 8 (1995), pp. 132–140.
  104. See, for example, Michman, The Holocaust and Holocaust Research, pp. 193–224.
  105. In addition to the aforementioned sources, see Jehoshua Eibeschitz, In Sanctity and in Heroism: “The Interpersonal Commandments”—Accounts of Martyrdom and Self-Sacrifice” (Tel Aviv: n.p., 1979); Yehuda Melrich, The Best-Kept Matza (Jerusalem: n.p., 1998) (both in Hebrew).
  106. This conclusion is based on the assumption that the teaching materials discussed here were produced after examining many sources and selecting those found suitable, as occurs in any curriculum. Yehuda Bauer, Jewish Reactions to the Holocaust: Rescue Attempts, Unarmed and Armed Resistance (Hebrew) (Tel Aviv: Ministry of Defense, 1983), pp. 164– 165, notes in a different context that the behavior of a minority “is more important than the majority phenomena” in some situations. Unlike Farbstein, however, Bauer stresses that this is the behavior of a minority.
  107. For a Haredi author who mentions the abandonment of observance and problems of faith, see Yeheskel Harpenes, In the Hollow of the Sling: Diary from the Extermination Camps (Hebrew) (Bene Beraq: n.p. 1980), for example pp. 25-26.
  108. Concerning Flinker, see Shaul Esh, “Introduction,” Young Moshe’s Diary: The Spiritual Torment of a Jewish Boy in Nazi Europe (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1965), pp. 5-11.
  109. Ibid., pp. 25-26. For his remarks on the difference between the Holocaust and previous troubles, see pp. 26–29.
  110. See, for example, ibid., pp. 62, 67-68, 73, 77, 103.
  111. Lichtenstein, Testimony, p. 240. See also Kahan and Schoenfeld, “Remember the Years,” p. 81.
  112. See, for example, Cohen, “Diaries of the Sonderkommandos in Auschwitz,” pp. 295-296, 307-308; Mendel Piekarz, The Last Hasidic Literary Document on Polish Soil: Writings of the Rebbe of Piaseczno in the Warsaw Ghetto (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1979). The selective and tendentious use of the Piaseczno rebbe’s writings in Haredi and religious-Zionist circles requires further research.
  113. See Eliezer Berkovits, With God in Hell: Judaism in the Ghettos and Deathcamps (New York and London: Sanhedrin Press, 1979), pp. 28-29, 37-38; Joseph Walk, “The Religious Leadership During the Holocaust,” (Hebrew) Yisrael Gutman and Cynthia J. Haft, eds., Patterns of Jewish Leadership in Nazi Europe 1933-1945 (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1979), pp. 383-387; Yaakov Zur, “Orthodox Jewry in Germany During the Nazi Regime,” (Hebrew), Abraham Margaliot and Yehoyakim Cochavi, eds., History of the Holocaust: Germany (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1998), vol. 2, p. 852; Dan Michman, “Understanding the Jewish Dimension of the Holocaust,” Studies in Contemporary Jewry 13 (1997), p. 234. Lichtenstein (Testimony, p. 84) expresses a familiar Haredi view: the Germans persecuted the religion. See also Moshe Prager, For A Sign And A Memorial: Commemorative Record of Cemeteries Destroyed and Desecrated in The Holocaust Years (Hebrew) (Tel Aviv: Gemilut Hesed Shel Emet, 1973), pp. 37–58.
  114. See Michman, The Holocaust and Holocaust Research, pp. 214–215, note 9; Zur, “Orthodox Jewry in Germany,” pp. 860-864; Hirsch J. Zimmels, The Echo of the Nazi Holocaust in Rabbinic Literature (New York:Ktav, 1977). Notably, the contemporary Haredi historiography that we examined also refrains from defining the Holocaust as a time of shemad.
  115. Leni Yahil, The Holocaust: The Fate of European Jewry, 1932–1945 (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), p. 554.
  116. See Hermann Kruk, Togbukh fun vilner geto (Yiddish) (New York: YIVO, 1961), pp. 350– 351. For other sources that exhibit similar problems, see, for example, Leib Garfunkel, Jewish Kovno in Its Destruction (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1959), pp. 256–257; and Mordechai Wilozny, Religious Life in Jewish Warsaw (September 1939–April 1943) (Hebrew), (Master’s Thesis, Bar-Ilan University, 1977), pp. 35–36, 46–61, 65–81; Isaiah Trunk, Judenrat: The Jewish Councils in Eastern Europe under Nazi Occupation (New York: Macmillan, 1972), pp. 194-195.
  117. See Isaac Jacob Weiss, “Pirsumey nisa” (Hebrew), Responsa Minhat Yitzhak, vol. 1 (London: Defus ha-Hinukh, 1955), pp. 265–274. The text was printed after the responsa and before the indexes. The remarks below are based on the version in the 1989 edition, vol. 1, pp. 265–274, which is identical to the original.
  118. Grosswardein belonged to Hungary until 1918. It was transferred to Romania in 1918, and reverted to Hungarian rule in 1940–1944. For general remarks on this town and its Jewish community, see Jean Ancel and Theodor Lavie, eds., Pinkas Hakehillot: Encyclopaedia of Jewish Communities, Rumania, vol. 2 (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1980), pp. 61–75.
  119. The exact years vary in the sources and require further examination.
  120. They include London: Defus ha-Hinukh, 1955–1983 (eight parts); Minhat Yitzhak (Jerusalem: 1989–1990, ten parts), and Minhat Yitzhak (Jerusalem: 1993, ten parts). The most recent printings are photo offsets of the original that contain nothing additional to or different from the first printing.
  121. Weiss, “Pirsumey nisa,” p. 265.
  122. Ibid., p. 271.
  123. Ibid., p. 266. Cf. Hasidic historiography on the Vizhnitser rebbe, Nosson Eliahu Roth, Meir ha-Hayim: Biography of the Saintly Pillar of the World, the Glory and Splendor of the Generation, Lover of Jews, His Esteemed Holiness, and Our Master, Teacher, and Rabbi, the late R. Hayyim Meir of Vizhnits, Author of the Holy Work ” Imrey Hayyim” (Hebrew) vol. 1 (Bene Beraq: Nahalat Tsvi Institute, 1996), especially pp. 302–382. Although this book presents dubious miracle tales, the basic facts checked, including dates, are accurate. For a discussion of Sabbath desecration in various phases of the rescue of the Belzer rebbe, see Moshe Yehezkeli, Rescue of the Belzer Rebbe from the Vale of Killing in Poland (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Jeshurun, 1962).
  124. See, for example, Harpenes, In the Hollow of the Sling, pp. 52–53; Wilozny, Religious Life in Jewish Warsaw, p. 36; Yahil, The Holocaust, p. 556: “In no few cases the Jews did not ask for rulings but did as they thought best”; Merlich, Havdala Candle, pp. 33–34.
  125. Menachem Friedman, “Life Tradition and Book Tradition in the Development of Ultraorthodox Judaism,” Harvey Ellis Goldberg, ed., Judaism Viewed From Within and From Without: Anthropological Studies (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987), pp. 235–256; Haym Soloveitchik, “Rupture and Reconstruction: The Transformation of Contemporary Orthodoxy,” Tradition, vol. 28, no.4 (1994), pp. 64–130.