Family and the Holocaust | עמוד דיון
Rav Shabtai Rapaport
Some of the more famous differences before and after the holocaust is the loss of continuity. A deeper shift could be discerned in the years leading up to and following it through the lens of understanding family structure.
Our current discussion is without sociological expertise; we do not have even one sociologist among us. We may consider inviting Prof. Dr. Gert Pickel to join us for a meeting, and offer his perspective. In any case, we shall try, from our various aspects of learning and occupation, to understand this relevant issue and evaluate it. I think that the weakening of family commitment after WWII and later in the 60s – is part of the break from tradition. A family could be viewed as the bastion of maintenance of tradition and identity. Since there is less respect for tradition (even disdain), so that the way family life – is only contingent on comfort.
We should be careful not to lose our focus. The post-holocaust view was discussed last time in terms of a cut tradition, a discontinuity for Jewish families as well as German families. I think that we should discuss the issue of identity – not only family but also the issue of national identity in the face of discontinued tradition.
We should schedule another meeting with some ideas about family. We should consider the new family, and examine what happened to the long-term commitment that was self-understood in the past, but not anymore even in Jewish ultra-orthodox circles.
Another point that should be considered. A husband and a wife that had an enjoyable quality time together, and find after a couple of months or years that they do not enjoy each other's company anymore, separate, many times, without considering it a major – intergenerational – crisis. I don't know what is the average longevity of same sex families, is it longer or shorter than that of heterosexual families. Surely this question was researched.
Also another aspect: once family was part of the social network. For example, even getting work in another town could be done through cousins etc. People knew who you are according to your family. In the traditional Jewish society, it was called "Yichus". This has weakened as well.
We should also consider what part does religion play in the family? Is belief infused into the stability? Is belief in predestination, for example a basis for stability (or the opposite)?
We should schedule the next meeting for which each participant will prepare a point of view/question/focus point etc, around the issue of family. Subsequent meetings could help crystalizing our ideas, deepen our understanding, and thus prepare a meaningful conference that will go beyond individually prepared papers. It will be wonderful if we could publish a coherent publication that will encourage interest and discussion i.e. SUGIA or a book, or both. We should also include younger participants who intend to be Rabbis, Pastors, teachers or researchers, or students that might be interested.