Participation Type

Paper

Presentation #1 Abstract

This opening address is based on the Introduction to my forthcoming book, due out in January 2018, entitled “Agony in the Pulpit: Jewish Preaching in Response to Nazi Persecution and Mass Murder, 1933–1945.” It contains selected passages from sermons presented in chronological order, delivered by 135 rabbis in 15 countries, responding from the pulpit to what they knew, week by week, about the fate of their fellow Jews in Europe. My address does not deal directly with the content of the sermons, but rather with the challenges in using the sermons as historical sources. Here the conference theme of “The Sermon: Text and Performance” is critical. For the sermon texts that have been preserved—even texts written by the preacher and safeguarded in archival collections, or in some cases stenographically transcribed while being spoken—are obviously not the sermon itself. Such texts lack the element of performance or delivery: the sound of the preacher’s voice, the pace of speaking, the emphasis on certain words and phrases, the gestures and facial expressions, and—no less important—the reaction and response of the listeners. It is therefore the combination of text and performance that enables us to understand and appreciate the sermon as a historical source for the reaction to increasingly catastrophic events. The presentation on the website of both a video tape of my paper as delivered, and the printed text that was written for the delivery, is a fine example of these two components of the sermon.

At-A-Glance Bios- Presenter #1

Marc Saperstein is Professor of Jewish History and Homiletics at the Leo Baeck College in London.

Start Date

10-19-2017 7:00 PM

End Date

10-19-2017 9:00 PM

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Oct 19th, 7:00 PM Oct 19th, 9:00 PM

Jewish Preaching in Response to Nazi Persecution and Mass Murder 1933–1945

This opening address is based on the Introduction to my forthcoming book, due out in January 2018, entitled “Agony in the Pulpit: Jewish Preaching in Response to Nazi Persecution and Mass Murder, 1933–1945.” It contains selected passages from sermons presented in chronological order, delivered by 135 rabbis in 15 countries, responding from the pulpit to what they knew, week by week, about the fate of their fellow Jews in Europe. My address does not deal directly with the content of the sermons, but rather with the challenges in using the sermons as historical sources. Here the conference theme of “The Sermon: Text and Performance” is critical. For the sermon texts that have been preserved—even texts written by the preacher and safeguarded in archival collections, or in some cases stenographically transcribed while being spoken—are obviously not the sermon itself. Such texts lack the element of performance or delivery: the sound of the preacher’s voice, the pace of speaking, the emphasis on certain words and phrases, the gestures and facial expressions, and—no less important—the reaction and response of the listeners. It is therefore the combination of text and performance that enables us to understand and appreciate the sermon as a historical source for the reaction to increasingly catastrophic events. The presentation on the website of both a video tape of my paper as delivered, and the printed text that was written for the delivery, is a fine example of these two components of the sermon.