Holocaust survivorship and religiosity: Meaning and identity

Andjela Samardzic, Yehuda Kowalsky, Micah Zylstra, Eric Gutgarts, Lisa Suzuki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Religion and spirituality play a vital role in the quality of life among survivors of trauma. Studies indicate that individuals may experience diverse trajectories based upon personal experiences including those who: suspend traditional perspectives of God and later experience restoration to some extent, reject religion and create new meaning. This study examines religion and spirituality as influenced by survivors’ pre-war relationships and Holocaust experiences. Seventeen members of the Holocaust Speaker’s Bureau discussed their early experiences prior to the Holocaust, highlighting relationships with their parents and their children. All participants had gone through concentration camps, were married, and had children. Qualitative interviews were conducted and analyzed using a consensual coding process. Themes related to Jewish identity in terms of religious practices and traditions, faith in God (miracles), and family history are discussed. God’s role in the Holocaust is addressed in addition to survivor perspectives of the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1077-1090
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2021


  • Holocaust
  • coping
  • religion
  • resilience
  • spirituality
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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