The Holocaust's Jewish Calendars: Keeping Time Sacred, Making Time Holy

The Holocaust's Jewish Calendars: Keeping Time Sacred, Making Time Holy

by Alan Rosen


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Calendars map time, shaping and delineating our experience of it. While the challenges to tracking Jewish conceptions of time during the Holocaust were substantial, Alan Rosen reveals that many took great risks to mark time within that vast upheaval. Rosen inventories and organizes Jewish calendars according to the wartime settings in which they were produced—from Jewish communities to ghettos and concentration camps. The calendars he considers reorient views of Jewish circumstances during the war and show how Jews were committed to fashioning traditional guides to daily life, even in the most extreme conditions. In a separate chapter, moreover, he elucidates how Holocaust-era diaries sometimes served as surrogate Jewish calendars. All in all, Rosen presents a revised idea of time, continuity, the sacred and the mundane, the ordinary and the extraordinary even when death and destruction were the order of the day. Rosen’s focus on the Jewish calendar—the ultimate symbol of continuity, as weekday follows weekday and Sabbath follows Sabbath—sheds new light on how Jews maintained connections to their way of conceiving time even within the cauldron of the Holocaust.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780253038265
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Publication date: 02/28/2019
Series: Jewish Literature and Culture
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Alan Rosen is author of The Wonder of Their Voices: The 1946 Holocaust Interviews of David Boder, editor of Literature of the Holocaust, and editor (with Steven T. Katz) of Elie Wiesel: Jewish, Literary, and Moral Perspectives. He lectures regularly at the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem and other Holocaust study centers.

Table of Contents




Part I: Time at the End of a Jewish Century

Part II: Tracking Time in the New Jewish Century: Calendars in Wartime Ghettos

Part III: Concentration Camps, Endless Time, and Jewish Time

Part IV: While in Hiding: Calendar Consciousness on the Edge of Destruction

Part V: At the Top of the Page: Calendar Dates in Holocaust Diaries

Part VI: The Holocaust as a Revolution in Jewish Time: The Lubavitcher Rebbes' Wartime Calendar Book


Appendix 1: Inventory of Wartime Jewish Calendars

Appendix 2: Months of the Jewish Calendar Year, with Their Holidays and Fast Days

Appendix 3: English-Language Rendering of Rabbi Scheiner Calendar


Selective Bibliography


What People are Saying About This

Rabbi Joseph Polak

This is an extraordinary book about the courage of Holocaust victims who, under circumstances of the greatest cruelty, imaginable and unimaginable, did not budge from their experience of the world as a sacred place, and in whose lives evil was given no sway over the dignity shaped by the holiness of time itself. The fashioners of Dr. Rosen’s calendars, and the thousands whose lives, while in the fiery furnace, were guided by them, are offered in this work a faithful, vivid, deeply moral tribute.

It must be read by the expert and novice alike.

David Patterson

With penetrating acumen Alan Rosen demonstrates the relationship between time and meaning, between meaning and holiness, between holy days and the divine presence—all of which came under assault in the Nazis’ effort to kill Jewish souls before destroying Jewish bodies.

Gershon Greenberg

Alan Rosen shows how calendars provided a sacred territory to defy the Nazi attempt to impose a futureless existence of mundane time, religious time, and Jewish history over the centuries.

Esther Farbstein

The routine of our lives brings us every day in contact with calendars: simple and illustrated, those hanging on the wall, on our table or in our pockets. And we treat them as taken-for-granted tools that organize our lives. Dr. Rosen reveals to us the meaning of the calendar as one of the most representative elements of Jewish resistance during the Holocaust. . . . Dr. Rosen breathes life into the calendars’ old pages and dry dates, placing them in their proper place of honor as an exhibit reflecting the world of Jews in the forests and in hiding, in labor and concentration camps. . . The book combines extensive information and fascinating investigations with sensitivity to the victims of the Holocaust and its survivors, and opens a new channel for understanding the heroic struggle of the Jewish soul during these terrible years..

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