I don’t love God. I accept his existence, recognize his omnipotence, and respect him—but do not love. Indeed, I find it obscene that Jews express their love of God so soon after he presided over the unimaginably brutal annihilation of seven million of us. Our Sabbath praises of the one who watched unmoved as the Jews entered gas chambers saying prayers to him are a desecration of their memory. Glorifying the God of Auschwitz is bizarre. We condemn gentiles who did nothing to stop the Holocaust, who refused to do even so little as to announce the ongoing extermination on American and British radio broadcasts to warn the European Jews to flee instead of hopefully boarding the trains to Auschwitz. How much more should we be appalled by God’s inaction, perhaps even by his action?

It is normal, to be fully expected, that the gentile world was not upset about the Holocaust. It is disgusting that religious Jews also prefer to forget. Because if they have not forgotten, how can they pray? I am never at ease saying “yitgadal we-yitkadash,” “Let his name be exalted and sanctified,” as this was the most common prayer for religious Jews in the death camps—and it didn’t help them. The High Priest Aaron probably felt the same way after God killed his two sons for no reason; Aaron continued sanctifying the Tent of Meeting, but could not eat of the sacrifices.

I don’t harbor illusions about idealistic justice. I’m a realist: whatever God defines as just, is just. The ways of the world are just because that is how justice is defined. Intellectually I understand that, but in my heart I cannot accept that the extermination of huge numbers of wonderful, spiritual, pious Jews was just. That people like these are gone. They didn’t deserve to be gassed on Sabbath and Yom Kippur, with Kaddish prayers on their lips, and no one to say Kaddish for them. God promised Abraham that he would spare Sodom if ten righteous people were to be found there, perhaps 1 percent of the population; there was surely a higher ratio of righteous Jews in Europe… though perhaps not much higher.

The Jewish concept of love, as any ancient notion, is less romantic than in European poetry. Jews are commanded to love God, but he also loves them—apparently with no romantic connotations. We must love our neighbors, and a Psalmist “loves the law.” The slave may ignominiously choose to remain with his master, whom he “loves.” The Hebrew word is best rendered as “longing” or “attaching oneself to someone or something,” such as in Ecclesiastes 5:9: “He who longs for money will not be satisfied with money.” It is a sensible notion that Jews should attach themselves to God, and he likewise attaches himself to the chosen people. But there is no love in the modern sense.