The story of American Jewry is inextricably entwined with the awesome defeat of the Holocaust and the rebirth of the state of Israel. However, for Michael Berenbaum, and others of his generation, whose adult consciousness included the war in Lebanon and the Palestinian Uprisings, the tale is more anguished, for the Jewish People are now divided, uncertain about the implications of the past and the direction of their future. Berenbaum explores the Jewish identity of this generation, the first to mature after tragedy and triumph. He probes the Holocaust's impact on Jewish consciousness and the imprint of American culture on Jewish identity. Challenging Zionism's conventional assumptions, he details American Jews' changing relationship to Israel as he examines the tensions created within Jewish tradition between a history of victimization and the empowerment of Jews. While demonstrating that the security of victory is one step from the anguish of victims, even when the victors have recently emerged from the fire, Berenbaum holds out the hope of liberation for Judaism, maintaining that five thousand years of history, with its chapter of Holocaust and empowerment, provide a unique foundation upon which to build a future. Michael Berenbaum is Hymen Goldman Professor of Theology at Georgetown University and Project Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. He is the author or editor of several books, including The Vision of the Void: Theological Reflections on the Works of Elie Wiesel and The Holocaust: Religious and Political Implications (with John Roth).
'Brilliant scholarship, astute political awareness, religious sensitivity, and lucid prose - these virtues characterize Michael Berenbaum and his pereceptive essays. Insightfully probing the Holocaust, contemporary Jewish thought, and American experience, After Tragedy and Triumph is a triumph.' John K. Roth 'All those who wish to read only one book about the condition of Jewry in 1990 would do well to choose Michael Berenbaum's After Tragedy and Triumph. In his description of contemporary Jewish thought he sacrifices neither complexity nor lucidity.' Raul Hilberg 'These essays offer us an important new Jewish voice. Michael Berenbaum combines a creative mind with the insights gleaned from firsthand experience. He gives an original portrait of how understanding of the Holocaust has become central in American Jewish life and how that understanding itself has been defined by the American experience. His theological commentary ranges from a fresh appreciation of Martin Buber and critique of Franz Rosenzweig to Orthodoxy's problems and possibilities with pluralism. Everything he touches he clarifies and illuminates. By sharing his insights our understanding is transformed. The reader is enriched - this is valuable reading.' Rabbi Irving Greenberg