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A Rabbi’s Impressions Of The Oberammergau Passion Play
by Joseph Krauskopf

A Rabbi examines the tangled narrative of the Crucifixion, and the roots of anti-Semitism in the early Church.

Four centuries ago a village high in the Bavarian Alps, Oberammergau, promised that, if God interceded against the bubonic plague, they would stage a Passion play every ten years. A Passion play is a medieval dramatic form which depicts the life and (principally) death of Jesus. All of the actors are residents, and the entire community participates in one way or another. The pageant continues in the 21st century.

This book is an American Reform Rabbi’s encounter with this quaint, and at the time insidiously anti-Semitic, production. He vividly describes his own feelings at each stage of the play. Krauskopf uses the 1900 Oberammergau Passion as a springboard to examine a whole set of issues which will make both Jews and Christians uncomfortable, but which need looking at, even today. He is a virtual attorney-for-the-defense, working every angle to clear the reputation of the Jews.

About the Author:

“Joseph Krauskopf , 1858-1923, American rabbi and humanitarian, b. Prussia. He went to the United States in 1872, enrolling (1875) in the first class of the Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, and receiving ordination in 1883. From 1887 until his death he was rabbi of the Congregation Keneseth Israel, Philadelphia, which flourished under his leadership. He was founder and president of the National Farm School at Doylestown, Pa., which opened in 1897, and he studied agricultural conditions in Russia. Krauskopf was a leader of charitable activities and reform movements in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania and a leading spokesman for his people. His writings include Evolution and Judaism (1887).”

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