The Presence of God at Auschwitz

The Presence of God at Auschwitz: Theological Reflections on the Work of Melissa Raphael

“Drawing on women’s experiences of the Holocaust, particularly women’s caring for and establishing relationships with one another, Melissa Raphael views such acts of non-violent resistance as reflecting the image of God. She maintains that God was not absent, silent, or responsible for the death of six million Jews, but rather was present as Shekhinah: a medieval, mystical, female image of the divine who goes into exile and suffers with the Jewish people. Raphael’s critique is not of God but of patriarchal models of divinity. This essay critically reflects upon the methods and sources Raphael uses in constructing her theology of presence. While sharing her belief in the importance of gender, it questions her selective use of women’s writings; her equation of femaleness with compassion and love to the exclusion of law and commandment; and the image of Shekhinah within Raphael’s feminist theological revision.”

I have not read this book, but the following review has put it on my priority-read list:

“Bile. Not worth the pixel light of my tablet. Absolute Bile. No coherence and never touches on the true issue.”

If her treatment of the subject gets one lonely star, then I confess I’m intrigued. I was attracted to the title because of parallels I see with Christian Theopaschitism, itself the subject of derision. Perhaps the denigration of the book is related to the dismissal of the Shekhinah. I’ll dig deeper and let you know.

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