The “Hitler” (Blog Search Term)

 (Rudolf Herz, Zugzwang  [1995 installation])

I think I want to scrub “Hitler” from Jewish Philosophy Place (JPP), although I am pretty sure I won’t because it says something about how things Jewish work online.

I had been wondering why my post “Inebriated Purim” was still getting so many hits this late in the year. It wasn’t Rav Shagar’s Chance and Providence: Discourses on the Inner Meaning of Purim and my dicussion of it that was attracting attention. 

One thing WordPress lets you do with your blog is check the search-terms that bring viewer-readers to your site. So what drew viewer-readers to “Inebriated Purim”? I find out it’s the “Hitler,” which has been the single search term consistently bringing the most viewer-readers to JPP. He’s mentioned only in passing in the post, which is devoted to Shagar, the problem of evil, and theodicy. As for the picture of Hitler’s, it was included as a joke, for Purim.

I’m actually appalled that a blog devoted to Jewish thought and culture is still stuck with Hitler and the Holocaust. If I want to rid JPP of the vestige of Hitler and the kind of reactive Judaism that builds up around Holocaust memory, I could simply scrub “Inebriated Purim “ and get rid of him. But then I’d have to scrub this post too, which means that I can’t talk about the Holocaust.

Finding an image for this post posed a diffulty. I didn’t really want a Hitler portrait photograph. I was going to go with Anselfm Kiefer’s Siegfried’s Difficult Way to Brunhilde (1977), but when I came back to my  “blognotes,” I was put off by the Holocaust piety. I went instead to find something from the old Mirroring Evil exhibition that showed at the Jewish Museum in 2000 (?). I didn’t much like it when I saw it. The show exhibited works by younger artists who sought to ironize Holocaust memory. It was supposed to be edgy, but it turned out snarky. There were the expected howls of outrage from the community. The reviews, even by the art critics, were overwhelming negative. The art was considered puerile, and plain not good. That was my opinion as well. But now, trying to sort out what kind of image to post with this post, it occurred to me that something from the exhibit would work rather well. Maybe the works at the show have aged well.

So what’s wrong with a little Hitler at JPP? It’s part of the story of Jewish culture and Jewish philosophy. Even though a lot of us are tired with it and want to move on, it’s important to understand how the Holocaust and its memory recycle in and out of the zeitgeist. Just please, anyone out there reading JPP… don’t get any wrong ideas.


About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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