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Conservative Judaism/film - surviving the Holocaust


  I just saw this film and I wonder if there is a feeling that Hitler and the Nazis were demon possessed or influenced by the devil?  The things they did were so inhuman that they seem inspired by the devil.  What do you think?

Dear Ben,

Thank you for writing.

However, as I don't believe - nor does most normative Judaism that is truly monotheistic - in the existence of any supernatural power or being apart from the one and unique God, I don't believe that Hitler was possessed in that sense.

Was he mentally ill? Was he a psychopath  or a sociopath or evil in his antipathy toward other human beings or just a crazy nationalist with his own dream for the Reich?

I do not have the training or the inclination to speculate about this possibilities.

Hitler existed. He was "enabled" by many different forces, monies, politics, economics, etc. by which he did what he did - and not sufficient human beings were able to distinguish his evil plan from what he almost achieved.

Sad comment on humanity and an important call and reminder for us to be vigilant in examining the decisions we are asked to make in life.

Best wishes

Rabbi Dov

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Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner


Write to me with questions about Jewish customs and law, history, philosophy and tradition for answers from a Conservative perspective or conversion. I am a graduate of The Jewish Theological Seminary and a member of the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly. Having served in congregational pulpits since 1970, I now am President of the Foundation For Family Education, Inc. a non-profit educational endeavor. I established it to create new formats of hands-on programs and provide free educational downloads at In addition to general informational questions I welcome your questions about programs for social action, outreach to dual-faith families, inter-faith clergy projects, healing services, education for conversion, adult education for the congregation and the community. If you have questions about Informal and Formal Education I am ready to share my extensive experience with Youth Activities, Camping and Religious School/Hebrew High School on a congregational, community and national/international level.


I have served on the National Youth Commission for more than 25 years and serve on the Boards of the Conservative Zionist movement MERCAZ and the World Council of Synagogues. I have always dual-families and taught candidates for conversion with a great sense of fulfillment. I am very proud of 25 years on the Jewish camping staff of Camps Ramah. My greatest source of pride is my family! Ask me about them, please!:-)

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