Liberal Judaism in Germany HOLOCAUST EDUCATION IN PEDAGOGY, HISTORY, AND PRACTICE 86 The stream of Liberal Judaism came into being in Germany as a result of Jews being emancipated and receiving equal rights under the law. Adherents to this stream believed that the traditional practices of Torahobservance “expressed a world of obsolete values and ideas and w[ere], moreover, an impediment to the Jews’ integration into their environment” (Ben-Sasson & Goldberg, 2003, p. 8) and so German Jews began to integrate into German society, including serving in the German military during the First World War, and they saw themselves as loyal, fully-participating German citizens. Equally important in teaching the Holocaust is the knowledge that there was also a traditional Orthodox Jewish community in Germany at this time. The German Orthodox Jewish community is less wellknown than the Liberal Reform Jewish community in Germany, and it is even less well-known than the Orthodox Jews living in Eastern Europe. Typically, the Orthodox Jew in the Holocaust narrative is limited to the image of the bearded Jews with curled sidecurls, known in Hebrew as payot, wearing traditional Jewish garb and living in Poland. Living as an Orthodox Jew in Germany Under Nazi Rule An overview of the four stages of Nazi persecution of the Jews during the Holocaust reveals that the initial stage was social and professional isolation, followed by ghettoization, deportation, and culminating with murder (Kaplan, 1998). During the period of social and professional isolation, which began with Adolf Hitler becoming the Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933 and culminated with the invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, the Nazis issued a series of anti-Jewish laws. The next section of this article will examine how the Orthodox Jewish community responded to their new reality within the guidelines and parameters of Orthodox Jewish law.
Three weeks after the April 1 st Boycott, on April 21, 1933, the Nazis banned shechitah, the ritual slaughter of animals according to Jewish law and required that all animals be stunned with an electric shock before being slaughtered. Jewish law stipulates that animals must be slaughtered in a specific manner, with a specific type of knife, in order to cause minimal suffering to the animal. Stunning is forbidden 10 and renders the animal treif 11 , not kosher 12 . As a result of the ban on shechitah, there was a severe shortage of kosher meat, but the Jewish community responded by importing meat from neighbouring countries, though this was very expensive and was later banned by the authorities (Ben-Sasson & Goldberg, 2003, pp. 67-68). Access to kosher meat was a problem, not only for the individual Jewish family, but for Jewish communal establishments, as well. Observant Jews could no longer rely on the kashrut or kosher reliability, of meat served in restaurants, senior centres, and other public establishments. There was a real possibility that the meat being served in these places had come from animals that had been stunned prior to the kosher ritual slaughter process of shechitah. A new term, New Kashrut began to be used to describe the level of kosher reliability of the meat served in these public establishments. An article from the Orthodox Jewish journal Der Israelit (as cited in Ben-Sasson & Goldberg, 2003) includes a warning to the Jewish community about this New Kashrut. The closing paragraph of the article reads, For our readers who are not sufficiently familiar with the meaning of the “new kashrut” and who cannot look it up in any Jewish lexicon, the concept is defined here briefly and to the point: it is meat from animals slaughtered after stunning, with or without shechitah—which in this case is insignificant. Thus, this is not meat that is kosher in a new way but completely non-kosher according to the old and new concepts, as no rabbinical power in the world can make neveilot and treifot [two types of non-kosher meat, determined based on whether the animal was improperly slaughtered or if it died of natural causes], kosher. It is already almost cynical that Jewish restaurant believe that they can advertise by using a concept that simply does not exist—“new kashrut”— in order to tempt kashrut-observant guests (p.73). 10 Although the Liberal Jewish community in Germany declared adherence to be unnecessary, for Orthodox Jews halachah 87 HOLOCAUST EDUCATION IN PEDAGOGY, HISTORY, AND PRACTICE (Jewish law) is a pillar of identity and integrated into every facet of daily life. It may be difficult for some readers to understand the relevance of halachah, but for Orthodox Jewry, adherence to halachah is an essential component that cannot be separated or removed from their life. 11 Treif means “not fit for ritual use.” See footnote 12 for the proper uses of the terms kosher and treif. 12 Although the term kosher is often used in reference to food, it actually means “fit for ritual use.” Orthodox Jews use the term “kosher” to refer to ritual objects, such as a Torah scroll, the Four Species, and even the shofar, ram’s horn blown on the High Holidays, and whether these objects are fit for use for the ritual as prescribed by Jewish law.