Rabbi Asher Wade tackles questions of Holocaust, God at local lecture
Nov. 6, 2003
Sherry Greenfield
Staff Writer

How could God have allowed so many people to die in the Nazi Holocaust of the 1930s and 1940s? Did God hear the prayers of the thousands who suffered?

These are questions that have haunted survivors of Auschwitz and other concentration camps since their dark days in Nazi-occupied Europe.

Offering his input and perspective is Rabbi Asher Wade, a world-renowned lecturer, counselor and teacher who as an ordained pastor in the United Methodist church converted to Orthodox Judaism in 1983.

Wade will be speaking at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Beth Sholom Community Center on North Market Street in Frederick. The topic of Wade's lecture is "God didn't die in Auschwitz: Answering the question: Where was God in the Holocaust?"

Drawing on his years of knowledge and contact with Holocaust survivors, the 54-year-old Wade will try to answer these questions.

"I have put in approximately 23 years of reading and research on this topic," Wade said from his home in Jerusalem. "In addition to being fluent in German, I have also met with, interviewed and in certain cases done therapy with scores of Holocaust camp survivors, it is in part, their story that I am giving over."

Wade's knowledge of the topic also comes from the tours he conducts at Israel's Yad VaShem -- a museum and library dedicated to documenting the history of the Jewish people during the Holocaust.

Camp Shoresh, a Jewish day camp in Adamstown, is sponsoring Wade's visit to Frederick.

Religious leaders at Beth Sholom consider Wade's perspective on the topic of the Holocaust important.

"The value of listening to him is to follow the experience of his journey," Rabbi Morris Kosman said. "Having belief is such an important tool in a person's life, therefore we should listen to Rabbi Wade and listen to his experience."

Wade's background is extensive. Born in Virginia, Wade was living in Hamburg, Germany, in 1975, when he was ordained a pastor in the United Methodist Church. He served as the minister of a Protestant church, where he met his wife in 1978.

Shortly after their marriage, they both began to investigate Judaism. Discovering that Judaism fulfilled their intellectual and spiritual well-being, they withdrew from the church and began a three-and-a-half-year conversion, Wade said.

But he suffered rejection as a result of his decision to convert and leave the church.

Wade decided to stay in Hamburg and pursue a second doctorate on the Orthodox-Reform Judaism debate. But as the controversy to convert continued, he withdrew from the University of Hamburg and moved to the United States and eventually to Jerusalem.

Wade also received a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the University of Southern California.