The Obligations of Auschwitz

My grandfather, who survived five Nazi camps, built in their shadow a life that consisted above all of children and grandchildren. The same is demanded of us all.

Holocaust survivor Joshua Kaufman with his daughters Rachel and Alexandra. BERND THISSEN/AFP/Getty Images.

Holocaust survivor Joshua Kaufman with his daughters Rachel and Alexandra. BERND THISSEN/AFP/Getty Images.

Jonathan Silver
observation
Jan. 26 2017
About Jonathan

Jonathan Silver is the editor of Mosaic.

What is at the core of Jewish identity in America, and what is at the margins? A few years ago, the Pew Research Center asked that question in a nationwide survey whose results were published in A Portrait of Jewish Americans. The answers are illuminating. When it comes to their priorities, American Jews report that “having a good sense of humor” is roughly twice as important as “observing Jewish religious law,” and “working for justice and equality” is twice as important as “belonging to a Jewish community.” But about one issue in particular, fully seven in ten American Jews agree: the consensus across all denominations of religious observance and all demographic variables is that a core determinant of their Jewish identity is memory of the Shoah.

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More about: History & Ideas, Holocaust, Jewish continuity