Jewish Journal


January 28, 2012

Ultra Orthodox survivor support group takes form in Israel


It’s the age-old question: Why does God let good things happen to good people? It’s even more difficult to answer when really awful things happen to people serving God. Theodicy is, as I’ve said before, “a black hole of theological clarity.”

And understanding the Holocaust is about as difficult as the question comes for observant Jews. Each year Jews remember the Holocaust with ceremonies on Yom HaShoah, which was yesterday. But the Ultra Orthodox do not partake. But now a group of Ultra Orthodox survivors have been to meet as a support group to reflect on their suffering during World War II.

The AP reports:

After years of silence, a small group of pious elderly survivors have begun meeting in a weekly support group at a senior center in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem, sharing their thoughts on how they reconcile with a Lord that allowed the destruction of their homes, their families and 6 million of their people.

“We stayed alive. We survived. How could this have happened without the almighty?” said Alex Seidenfeld, an 82-year-old survivor from Hungary, who said he saw “miracles” unfold daily in Nazi concentration camps. “The almighty knows what he is doing. He has a plan that we sometimes don’t understand.”

The ultra-Orthodox support group is the first of its kind, and members say their community’s public silence on the Holocaust has been misunderstood. In the eyes of most secular Israelis, the ultra-Orthodox have, at best, a cavalier approach to the Holocaust.

Interesting story that mentions the recent conflict in Israel between Ultra Orthodox Jews and other Israelis, in particular the use of Holocaust symbolism. Read the rest here.

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