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You shall tell your children : remembering the Holocaust in American Passover Haggadot / by Jennifer Louise Gubkin.

Publication | Library Call Number: BM674.79 .G83 2001

This dissertation argues for and enacts a reading of representative Shoah texts found in contemporary haggadot from liberal Judaisms in the United States based on a hermeneutic of trauma. The ongoing ritualizing of the Shoah in Passover haggadot requires special attention to the problematics raised by placing a non-redemptive event into a redemptive narrative. The hermeneutic of trauma developed in this dissertation attends to the history, ideology and construction of memory surrounding Shoah texts and the implications of these for ethical readings that allow mourning and prevent forgetting. The hermeneutic of trauma is a method of reading and interpreting Holocaust narratives in the haggadah by reading against the redemptive frame of the text. After reviewing academic discussion of memory and representation of the Holocaust and setting out the critique of redemptive memory, especially its complex relationship to feelings of shame and to the ability to mourn, the dissertation analyzes how the creators of the Reform haggadah created a text of both continuity and contrast with their Reform legacy and their rabbinic heritage. It places this text, along with its Conservative counterpart, within an American discourse of Holocaust-redemption and argues against this as the basis for a viable American Jewish identity. The dissertation examines ritualizations that draw on Holocaust icons, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the diary of Anne Frank, and presents non-redemptive readings of these memory texts. This dissertation also analyzes the performative aspect of the seder and its role in remembering the Holocaust. Investigation of the non-rational and embodied aspects of the ritual leads to the argument that the Holocaust, as an event at the limits, cannot be embodied in its full extremity. The dissertation argues that these ritual memory texts—and by extension ritual theory itself should be read to privilege the tension created by the contrast between Exodus and Auschwitz. It is argued that this move, which acknowledges these commemorations as traumatic text, breaks open the redemptive frame of the haggadah and presents a limited, yet real, possibility for hope.

Gubkin, Jennifer Louise.
Record last modified: 2018-04-24 16:01:00
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