Embracing Auschwitz

Forging a Vibrant, Life-Affirming Judaism that Takes the Holocaust Seriously

by Rabbi Joshua Hammerman


In stock (can be backordered)

About this book

The Judaism of Sinai and the Judaism of Auschwitz are merging, resulting in new visions of Judaism that are only beginning to take shape.

Each of the chapters of this book outlines an aspect of this work-in-progress, this Torah of Auschwitz, and we will see just how the ways of Sinai are being recast, the old wells re-dug.

Jewish survival will not be assured until the grandchildren of survivors and others of their generation can begin to take the darkness of the Shoah and turn it into a song, absorbing the absurdity of a silent God while loving life nonetheless.

“Compelling and provocative.”
—Yossi Klein Halevi, author, Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor

“Eye opening and thought provoking.”
—U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal

“A powerful meditation on what Judaism could be in this time.”
— Peter Beinart, author, The Crisis of Zionism

“Hammerman’s brave new vision challenges us and demands our attention.”
— Gary Rosenblatt, Editor At Large, The Jewish Week

“Should be read by every Jew who cares about Judaism.”
— Rabbi Dr. Irving “Yitz” Greenberg, author, The Jewish Way

Advance Praise

“As the Holocaust shifts from living wound to fitful memory, the urgent question is not just how to remember but why. In Embracing Auschwitz, Rabbi Joshua Hammerman gives us a compelling and provocative answer. His ‘Torah of Auschwitz’ celebrates the life-affirming values of heroism, persistence, faith, Jewish unity and defense, and universal justice. Embracing Auschwitz is an essential contribution to our understanding of what we as a people need to carry from the 20th into the 21st century.”
Yossi Klein Halevi,
Senior Fellow, Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem
author, Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor

“I hate the title of this book and there are tens of passages which make me wince and grit my teeth in order to go on. Yet this is an important book and should be read by every Jew who cares about Judaism—because its central point is true and it offers wisdom to guide us into the Jewish future.
“Hammerman’s fundamental thesis is that the Holocaust must be incorporated into the fabric of Jewish religion. Our understanding of every tradition and ethical commandment must be reshaped by its light. This book shows how to do this. Thankfully, he makes clear that the correct application of this concept is not to magnify death and the feeling of victimization. Rather it is to respond with greater intensity of human responsibility and to savor life even more for its fragility and vulnerability.

“This is not to mention other exciting challenges in the book. Take his bold proposal—for the sake of creating an indissoluble bond—to grant every Jew in the world a vote in Israel. I don’t agree but this is a proposal that makes waves and is worth fighting over.

“In short, damn the torpedoes and wrecks along the way. Full speed ahead. Read this book. Criticize its faults. Absorb its truths. The life you inspire may well be your own.”
Rabbi Dr. Irving “Yitz” Greenberg,
founding director of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust,
Chair of the Holocaust Memorial Museum
founding President of the Jewish Life Network
author, The Jewish Way

“With immense insight and unstinting honesty, this work looks hard at the Holocaust’s enduring meaning for Jewish identity and the world. In examining the past in all its complexities, Rabbi Hammerman suggests a hopeful path for our complex Jewish community. Like many of Rabbi Hammerman’s sermons and other writings, it is eye opening and thought provoking. Embracing Auschwitz will make you think and feel—no walk in the park, but a journey well worth taking and embracing.”
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal

“A powerful meditation on what Judaism could be in this time.”
Peter Beinart, author, The Crisis of Zionism

“Starting with a jarring book title, Joshua Hammerman captures our imagination and re-pivots our approach to dealing with the horrors of the Holocaust. As a gifted journalist and spiritual leader, he makes his case with a clear voice and open heart, showing us that we can fulfill the biblical mandate to ‘choose life’ by doing so with new forms of joy and sanctity.

“Hammerman’s brave new vision challenges us and demands our attention.”
Gary Rosenblatt, editor at large, The Jewish Week