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Book Discussion: Agony in the Pulpit by Dr. Marc Saperstein

April 16, 2019 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

The Center for Jewish Civilization invites you to a discussion of Dr. Marc Saperstein’s book Agony in the Pulpit.

About the book: Many scholars have focused on contemporary sources pertaining to the Nazi persecution and mass murder of Jews between 1933 and 1945—citing dated documents, newspapers, diaries, and letters—but the sermons delivered by rabbis describing and protesting against the growing oppression of European Jews have been largely neglected. Agony in the Pulpit is a response to this neglect and to the accusations made by respected figures that Jewish leaders remained silent in the wake of catastrophe. The passages from sermons reproduced in this volume—delivered by 135 rabbis in fifteen countries, mainly from the United States and England—provide important evidence of how these rabbis communicated the ever-worsening news to their congregants, especially on important religious occasions when they had peak attendance and peak receptivity.

A central theme is how the rabbis related the contemporary horrors to ancient examples of persecution. Did they present what was occurring under Hitler as a reenactment of the murderous oppressions by Pharaoh, Amalek, Haman, Ahasuerus, the Crusaders, the Spanish Inquisition, the Russian pogroms? When did they begin to recognize and articulate from their pulpits an awareness that current events were fundamentally unprecedented? Was the developing cataclysm consistent with traditional beliefs about God’s control of what happened on earth? No other book-length study has presented such abundant evidence of rabbis in all streams of Jewish religious life seeking to rouse and inspire their congregants to full awareness of the catastrophic realities that were taking shape in the world beyond their synagogues.

Dr. Marc Saperstein served as principal of the Leo Baeck College for a five-year term beginning on July 1, 2006. He is now Professor of Jewish History and Homiletics. Previously he held prestigious positions at three American Universities: as Charles E. Smith Professor of Jewish History and Director of the Program in Judaic Studies at the George Washington University in Washington D.C. (1997-2006), Gloria M. Goldstein Professor of Jewish History and Thought at Washington University in St. Louis (1986-1997), and Lecturer, Assistant and Associate Professor of Jewish Studies at Harvard Divinity School (1977-1986).

Light refreshments will be served prior to the event. RSVP is encouraged.

Any person with an accommodation request is welcome to email us at cjcinfo@georgetown.edu. We will try to meet these accommodation requests to the best of our ability.

RSVP at msaperstein2019.eventbrite.com


April 16, 2019
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm


Pedro Arrupe, S.J. Residence Hall, Georgetown University, 6411 Tondorf Rd, Washington, DC 20007, USA
3901 Georgetown Ct NW United States


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