Many scholars have focused on contemporary sources pertaining to the Nazi persecution and mass murder of Jews between 1933 and 1945citing dated documents, newspapers, diaries, and lettersbut the sermons delivered by rabbis describing and protesting against the ever-growing oppression of European Jews have been largely neglected. Agony in the Pulpit is a response to this neglect, and to the accusations made by respected figures that Jewish leaders remained silent in the wake of catastrophe. The passages from sermons reproduced in this volumedelivered by 135 rabbis in fifteen countries, mainly from the United States and Englandprovide important evidence of how these rabbis communicated the ever-worsening news to their congregants, especially on important religious occasions when they had peak attendance and peak receptivity. A central theme is how the preachers related the contemporary horrors to ancient examples of persecution. Did they present what was occurring under Hitler as a reenactment of the murderous oppressions by Pharaoh, Amalek, Haman, Ahasuerus, the Crusaders, the Spanish Inquisition, the Russian Pogroms? When did they begin to recognize and articulate from their pulpits an awareness that current events were fundamentally unprecedented? Was the developing cataclysm consistent with traditional beliefs about God's control of what happened on earth? No other book-length study has presented such abundant evidence of rabbis in all streams of Jewish religious life seeking to rouse and inspire their congregants to full awareness of the catastrophic realities that were taking shape in the world beyond their synagogues.
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About the Author
Marc Saperstein is professor emeritus of Jewish history at George Washington University and professor of Jewish history and homiletics at Leo Baeck College.
Table of Contents
Preface and Acknowledgments Abbreviations, and a Note on Style Introduction Chronological Selectiions Sermons from 1932 Sermons from 1933 Sermons from 1934 Sermons from 1935 Sermons from 1936 Sermons from 1937 Sermons from 1938 Sermons from 1939 Sermons from 1940 Sermons from 1941 Sermons from 1942 Sermons from 1943 Sermons from 1944 Sermons from 1945 Complete Sermons 1932 (Prelude) Jacob Xenob Cohen, "The Menace of Hitlerism to American Jewry," Free Synagogue, New York 1933 Harry Joshua Stern, "Hitlerism, Germany and Civilization," Temple Emanu-El, Montreal, Mass Rally. Israel Levinthal, "Old Pharaoh in Modern Garb," Brooklyn Jewish Center, NY Jacob P. Rudin, "Dark Horizons - 1933," Temple Beth-El, Great Neck, NY 1934 Harold I. Saperstein, "The Call to Battle," Temple Emanu-El of Lynbrook, NY 1935 Ferdinand Isserman, "My Second Visit to Nazi Germany," Temple Israel, St. Louis, MO 1936 Abba Hillel Silver, "But Mordecai Bowed Not Down," The Temple, Cleveland, OH 1937 Israel Mattuck, "The Church Conflict in Germany," Liberal Jewish Synagogue, London 1938 Abraham Mayer Heller, "A Peoples Voice is Silenced," Flatbush Jewish Centre, Brooklyn, NY Tobias (Tuviah) Geffen, "Sermon on .ayyei Sarah 5699, at the Time of the Great Destruction of the Jews in Germany at the Hands of the Evil Oppressor, Hitler, May his name and his Memory be Blotted Out," Congregation Shearith Yisrael, Atlanta, GA 1939 Julius Cohn, "Farewell Sermon (Abschiedspredigt), Ulm Congregation" Ignaz Maybaum, "The Anniversary of November 10," Brondesbury Synagogue, London 1940 Leo Franklin, "Is This the End?" Temple Beth-El, Detroit, MI 1941 Eliezer Berkovits, "Because of Our Sins?" United Hebrew Congregation, Leeds, England 1942 Yitzhak Katz, "Things I Intended to Say ... ," Conference of Jewish Social Self-Help (Zy-dowska Samapomoc Spolczna, ZSS), Warsaw Ghetto Michael Elton (formerly Emil Ehrnthal), "The Death Camps," Intercession Service, Day of Fast and Mourning, Bedford, England 1943 Bertram Korn, "The Prayer for Life," Shaarei Shomayim, Mobile, AL Akiba Predmesky, "The Ark of G-D Has Been Taken," Jewish Center of Williamsbridge, Bronx, NY 1944 Joseph Hertz, "The Battle of Warsaw," Bevis Marks Synagogue, London Louis I. Newman, "The Cup of Fury," Congregation Rodeph Sholom, New York 1945 Abraham Cohen, "Peace Celebration," Birmingham Hebrew Congregation, England Sources and Bibliography Rabbis Cited Index