This brief introduction discusses the importance of understanding what the American Jewish response – and more importantly, the American Jewish theologians’ response – to the Holocaust has been, and what it has taught Jews about their approach to the past and the future. The author has approached this by an examination of the writings of five thinkers (Richard Rubinstein, Eliezer Berkovits, Irving Greenberg, Arthur Cohen, and Emil Fackenheim), each of whom in the 1960s and 1970s began to treat the Holocaust as a central and determining feature in his Jewish thinking. Each conceived of his theological task as understanding Judaism in terms of an act of coming to grips with Auschwitz, yet each has been influential in different ways, and for different constituencies. A brief summary is given of the writings of each of the five, and of some of the thoughts and conclusions raised. The introduction ends with an outline of the book.
Keywords: American theologians, Auschwitz, Eliezer Berkovits, Arthur Cohen, Emil Fackenheim, Irving Greenberg, history, Holocaust, Jewish history, Jewish theologians, Jewish theology, Judaism, Richard Rubinstein
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