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HOLOCAUST EDUCATION IN

HOLOCAUST EDUCATION IN PEDAGOGY, HISTORY, AND PRACTICE 88 Praying as an Orthodox Jew in Germany Under Nazi Rule Traditional Jewish law requires that a quorum, or minyan in Hebrew, of ten men be present in the synagogue in order to recite certain communal prayers, both during the weekday prayer service and the Sabbath prayer services. During the 1930s, Jews who lived in small towns, villages, and the countryside began to move to the larger cities in order to benefit from the physical and spiritual support that the established Jewish communities in the city could offer (Ben-Sasson & Goldberg, 2003, p. 86). As a result, Jews in the small communities found that they were not enough men to maintain a regular minyan for prayers recited on the Jewish Sabbath. In an effort to address this problem and maintain a semblance of community that was provided by communal prayers in a synagogue, the regional rabbinical council in Bavaria issued a prayer book for communities that did not have a minyan. A letter dated April 1, 1938, written by the Union of Jewish Communities in Bavaria to the Union of Religious Jewish Communities in Pfalz (as cited in Ben-Sasson & Goldberg, 2003) states, The departure of members has made it difficult for many communities to hold regular services on Shabbat [Jewish Sabbath]. Following the example of the Union of Communities in Prussia, we are sending you a prayer book for communities that do not have a minyan, in which you will find instructions on conducting services in the absence of a minyan. We hope that this encouragement will mean that all community ties will not be severed as soon as there is no longer a minyan, that public prayer will not be abolished and that through public prayer even the smallest of our communities will feel themselves to be part of Klal Israel [The People of Israel]. (p. 87) Teaching About Jews When Teaching the Holocaust The two examples of kashrut and prayer give a glimpse into the religious life of German Jews living under Nazi rule. As Mais (2007) teaches,

There is a need, therefore, to present the often-ignored Jewish dimension of the Holocaust. Doing so will help audiences get inside the heads of the threatened Jews, so they can understand not only how Jews perceived and reacted to changing Nazi policies but how they understood the implications of these policies. A more complete perspective will reveal that Jews were not passive victims, but active agents who responded with a surprisingly wide range of resourceful actions. (p. 18) The Holocaust is the systematic persecution and murder of the Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators during the years 1933-1945 13 . As educators we must first teach our students what it means to be a Jew and what Jewish people believe and practice. We must teach our students about Jewish life and Jewish religious observance. Only then can they begin to truly appreciate how the various Jewish communities responded to the Nazis persecution. We cannot only teach that the Jewish communities were victims. We must also explain that the Jewish German community did not implode as a result of the anti-Jewish policies issued by the Nazi between the years 1933-1938. We must tell the story of how the religious German Jewish community demonstrated a degree of agency and continued to maintain its religious practices and observances while living under Nazi rule. References Bauer, Y. (2001). A history of the Holocaust: Revised edition. Danbury, CT: Franklin Watts. Ben-Sasson H., & Goldberg, A. (2003). Years wherein we have seen evil (vol. I orthodox Jewry in Germany under the Nazi rule): Selected aspects in the history of religious Jewry during the Holocaust. Jerusalem, Israel: Yad Vashem. Kaplan, M. A. (1998). Between dignity and despair: Jewish life in Nazi Germany. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Mais, Y. (2007). Jewish life in the shadow of destruction. In Y. Mais (Ed.), Daring to resist: Jewish defiance in the Holocaust (pp. 18-24). New York, NY: Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. 89 HOLOCAUST EDUCATION IN PEDAGOGY, HISTORY, AND PRACTICE 13 Definition from Yad Vashem

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