“What Would Roy and Alice Do? A Reflection on How I Came to Be a Failure through Dialogue, Thank God,” by Irving (Yitz) Greenberg

I first learned about dialogue from reading Martin Buber. From him, I understood that religious dialogue was all about meeting the other in an I-Thou encounter. Certainly, there should be no intention to change the other or make him/her over in my image. But I confess that I did not enter the Jewish-Christian conversation in a very dialogic frame of mind. I was driven by a shocking, life-changing encounter with the Holocaust in 1961 that tore apart my devout, believing relationship with the God of Israel and shattered my religious equilibrium as a fulfilled modern Orthodox Jew. I could not understand how the Nazis could single out the Jews for total extermination, preceded by emotional torture and endless suffering, yet the neighboring peoples—nay, the whole modern civilized world—stood by. Nor could I accept that God had not intervened to save God’s people from this fate.

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