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Jewish Religious Responses to the Holocaust

Module titleJewish Religious Responses to the Holocaust
Module codeTHE3286
Academic year2018/9
Module staff

Dr David Tollerton (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module will focus on the diverse ways in which Jewish religious thought has engaged with the Holocaust. Alongside considering the reactions of those caught up in the events of the 1930s-40s, attention will be given to some of the radical assessments of the Holocaust’s implications for Judaism that developed from the 1960s onwards. These assessments took a number of forms, so as well as examining the writings of several prominent Jewish theologians, the religious dimensions of post-Holocaust art and literature will also be considered.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module aims to allow you to:

  • Understand several distinct aspects of Jewish religious responses to the Holocaust.
  • Understand how such responses have developed in varying contexts from the 1930s to the present.
  • Consider the manner in which several different mediums – such as theological writings, artworks, liturgy and literature – have been used to articulate responses to the Holocaust.
  • Consider how Jewish thinkers have negotiated with older religious texts and traditions in the aftermath of this modern event.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Describe and critically assess the development of Jewish ‘Holocaust Theology’ from the 1960s onwards
  • 2. Demonstrate a critical awareness of the varying modes by which post-Holocaust religious ideas have been articulated
  • 3. Analyse why some Jewish religious responses to the Holocaust have been controversialAnalyse why some Jewish religious responses to the Holocaust have been controversial

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Demonstrate an extensive understanding of the role political developments and historiographical debates can play in shaping religious ideas
  • 5. Demonstrate a critical awareness of the ways in which religious traditions are received and sometimes reconfigured in the aftermath of upheaval
  • 6. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the diversity of mediums through which theological ideas can be articulated
  • 7. Evaluate and analyse a variety of primary and secondary sources

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 8. Shape detailed information into a clear account
  • 9. Show coherence and rigour in argument
  • 10. Critically analyse written sources

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Debates in Holocaust historiography and the event’s evolving place in western culture
  • Considering the broader context of Judaism’s experience of modernity
  • The Holocaust and Jewish-Christian relations
  • The Bible in post-Holocaust thought
  • Religious responses to the Holocaust in literature and drama
  • Religious responses to the Holocaust in artworks and liturgy
  • Jewish religious responses during the Nazi-period
  • Jewish ‘Holocaust Theology’ of the 1960s-1980s
  • Jewish ‘Holocaust Theology’ of the 1990s-2000s
  • Traditionalist responses to Jewish ‘Holocaust Theology’

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching 22Lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching 11Seminars
Guided independent study267Private study


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Case study report1000 words3, 5, 7-10Written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay502500 words2-10Written
Essay502500 words1-10Written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay2-10Referral/Deferral period
EssayExam1-10Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Braiterman, Zachary, (God) After Auschwitz: Tradition and Change in Post-Holocaust Jewish Thought (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998).
  • Cohn-Sherbok, Dan, God and the Holocaust (Leominster: Gracewing, 1996).
  • Dan Cohn-Sherbok. (ed.) Holocaust Theology: A Reader (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2002).
  • Katz, Steven T. (ed.), Wrestling with God: Jewish Theological Responses During and After the Holocaust (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).
  • Morgan, Michael L., Beyond Auschwitz: Post-Holocaust Jewish Thought in America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

  • ELE –

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Holocaust, Judaism, Shoah, Auschwitz, Theology

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Last revision date