How the Holocaust Challenged Faith

This singular event presented profound theological challenges--and for some, shattered their belief in God.

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Was the Covenant Broken?

This tremendous upset called into question whether the covenant--what was supposed to be an eternal contract between God and Israel--had expired. Without it, there was no sense of order in the universe, no purpose in life, no hope for a better future, no meaning in past or present suffering, no need for Jews or Jewish life.

Of course, this was exactly the conclusion desired by the Nazis, who had to eliminate belief in absolute Divine power (which was, according to God's plan, eventually supposed to be universally recognized so that everyone would accept, and benefit by, His standards) and any reference to it in order to wield their own absolute power.

This was also exactly the response of many victims, for whom the covenant had been rendered null and void. They could not believe that God and the Holocaust's degree of evil could coexist. Or they could not recognize a God who would allow such evil to operate. They had no faith that such crimes would never again occur and feeling no hope in life, and expecting no meaning in death, saw no reason to perpetuate Judaism. To spare their descendants the horrors they had endured, they abandoned Judaism, sometimes converting and raising their children as non-Jews.

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Lesli Koppelman Ross is a writer and artist whose works have appeared nationally. She has devoted much of her time to the causes of Ethiopian Jewry and Jewish education.