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The Trial of God: (as it was held on February 25, 1649, in Shamgorod)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  973 ratings  ·  79 reviews
Where is God when innocent human beings suffer? This drama lays bare the most vexing questions confronting the moral imagination.

Set in a Ukranian village in the year 1649, this haunting play takes place in the aftermath of a pogrom. Only two Jews, Berish the innkeeper and his daughter Hannah, have survived the brutal Cossack raids. When three itinerant actors arrive in
Paperback, 208 pages
Published November 14th 1995 by Schocken (first published 1979)
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 ·  973 ratings  ·  79 reviews

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Jan Rice
A friend told me about having read this short book after coming across a reference to it. He hadn't known it was a play but read through it in two sittings. He gave me a review he'd found of the book that made sense of it for him, while advising me to hold off reading it until I'd finished the play. I did hold off, which let me assemble some impressions of my own. As far as I was concerned, this book is part of the genre known as "Holocaust theology;" the title gave that away. I also saw ...more
Dec 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library
Elie Wiesel was a boy at Auschwitz when he watched prisoners convene a traditional Hebrew court to try God of breaking his sacred covenant with the Jews. PBS's "Masterpiece Theater" excellently dramatizes the trial in its movie "God on Trial", which bears strong influence from Wiesel's play.

Wiesel's 1979 original is not set at the concentration camp. The book's introduction documents his struggles to find a suitable setting for his story; he finally settles on the late middle ages, at an inn of
Jun 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm speechless. Every person who seeks to know God should read this. It will challenge you, it will make you question. It may make you cry, even as it makes you laugh. This dark dark comedy reveals truths about the struggles of remaining faithful even in the midst of the deepest of tragedies. I would recommend to all.
Frank Roberts
Mar 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
If man is made in God's image (or vice versa) then to put God on trial is to indict Man. Wiesel's powerful drama invites reflection on mankind's inability to live up to God, or to fashion gods that are truly worthy. Most damning of all, no person is found to stand as God's advocate at the trial, except for Satan himself.

Powerful and provocative.
Sep 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010, favorites
I finished the play in just a few days because it moves so quickly, and want to read it again and again. It's a story that is profound but accessible and even hours after finishing it I can't seem to pick my jaw up off of the floor. Mind-blowing and awesome.

The Trial of God is a perfect vehicle for a subject beyond weighty, and it is an incredible way to honor and preserve the ideas shared by the Rabbis during the trials they held in concentration camps and ghettos for future generations.
Sep 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: drama
I feel that I am treading on holy ground when I approach the depth of suffering and horror that the Jewish people endured during the Holocaust, and that I have little right to express any thought on the matter at all; I would rather listen, listen to what they have to say and to teach us. The U.S. school system does a good job and introducing young students to the matter. I have read "Number the Stars" and "The Diary of Anne Frank," as well as a few others. I am glad that as a society, we are ...more
Madeleine Lesieutre
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-summer-2017
This is a play of Jewish people putting God on trial in 1649 for refusing to do anything while his people are killed. While preparing the trial, they struggle to find a prosecutor for God. At the end of Act 2, a “stranger” shows up and volunteers to defend God. At the beginning of Act 3, we learn that the “stranger's name is Sam. And at the very end, we learn who Sam actually is and what he spends his time doing when he isn’t defending God.

For the duration of the trial, they debate over the
Colleen Browne
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: literature
This is a fast read and like many books of its sort, I feel I could read over and over and each time gain more insight into the author's purpose. Set in Shamgorod in the 17th Century, the play is set after a series of pogroms that have devastated Jewish villages leaving only a handful of survivors. God is put on trial for allowing the horrors inflicted upon the people to happen.

As a boy in Auschwitz, Wiesel witnessed a similar occurrence carried out by some rabbis which haunted him his entire
Noel VerDine
Dec 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
After finishing Jonathan Ames' book Wake Up Sir I wanted to read something very different from the current novel style in vogue. I was scanning my bookshelf and came across this, a play, by Elie Wiesel. I recalled a friend of mine telling me he really liked it, and it gave him a few things to think about. I picked it up and finished it in just one shift at my coffeeshop, as I set it down, finished, a different friend of mine noticed it for the first time even though we were reading at the same ...more
Cristina Kiefer
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
nice, quick read for a play...interesting concepts. interesting retelling of Job.
Nathan Albright
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: challenge-2019
One can tell in looking at this book that the author is aiming at a play that hits much like the book of Job does in light of the horrors of the Holocaust, which are hinted at, at least in foreshadowing, in this tale of a dark night where a pogrom stalks the survivors of previous pogroms committed by Poles and Ukrainians in what later became the Pale of Russia who hated each other but ended up killing the (generally harmless) Jews who happened to be around. It is easy to see what the author is ...more
Kyle Rogers
Sep 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
The idea of and ideas within the play are fascinating and well worth visiting. Elie Wiesel is the master of writing about not just Jewish suffering, but human suffering. Yet I can’t quite give this five stars. It starts slow, has a plot turn or two that feel very forced, takes forever to get to the trial itself and then doesn’t follow through with the idea of a “trial of God” in the sense of having a full and complete trial. It seems like the trial itself only lasts a few pages. These end up ...more
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a very insightful look into how a group of Jews dealt with all the hate and attacks they have received in different points in history. Whether it be the holocaust or any pogroms before that. This book brings up what many Jewish people probably asked themselves during these terrible events, "Why God?" Thats exactly what the main character of this story asks and wants to know. The events of the book take place with this question in mind and will make you think about all the different ...more
Jon Beadle
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
A whole lot of talk about interpersonal relationships, told in an anachronistic form. Almost no talk about God. And since there’s no way that 17th century Jewish peasants spoke in these ways, it becomes clear that Wiesel really wanted to write a book about the trial he witnessed in the holocaust. The BBC did a TV movie based on one line in the foreword of this play, and it was far more interesting.
Star Bright
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I honestly have never had a reaction to a book the way I did with this one. Wiesel crafts and environment of comfort and community, and when that close knit unit is infiltrated by the stranger, everything feels wrong and tainted. This is a beautiful novel of searching for God, dealing with the horrors of the world, and processing trauma.
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology, seminary, drama
I read this for a project for class. It was a quick, yet powerful & thought-provoing read where God is put on trial to answer for the injustices in the world.

It lightly paralleled the story of Job, but Wiesel masterfully subverted many of the characters of the Job story. The reader is forced to ask uncomfortable questions & wrestle with themes of theodicy & justice.
Ryan Louis
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
A profound work.

From the afterword:"We humans are incredulous when we hear how much responsibility we bear for our own fate and that of others. Is it God we don't believe in, or ourselves as images of God? If we believed in the latter, our ways would have to change." - Matthew Fox
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel, english, teoloji
Movie is 10 times better then book.
Lori Sampson
Dec 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
One must possess the ability to think deeply to understand this book. I absolutely loved it.
Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
The forward and afterward were pretty instrumental to my deeper understanding of this play. With those bookends, though, this was a powerfully thought-provoking read.
Jolie L
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A powerful story that still resonates today.
Michelle Halber
Hard book to read... I am sure that I missed a lot by reading it on my own.
Hannah Petosa
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Michelle Hamlyn
Mar 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: personal-home
Not what I was expecting.
Elliot Ratzman
Jan 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Three men put God on trial; finding Him guilty, they then proceed to pray the evening service. I’ve heard this story in a few different iterations: about a group of Communists for example. Wiesel, however, claims this actually happened, three rabbis, at Auschwitz. This play is Wiesel’s attempt to recreate that scene, though it’s set in 17th century Ukraine after a series of pogroms. That it is happens on the holiday Purim and performed by a bunch of actors/jesters in a tavern is a nice touch. ...more
Lois R. Gross
Jul 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
While reading the author's obituaries, last weekend, I stumbled upon the play that I had never read. It is based on an actual "trial of G-d" that occurred during Wiesel's imprisonment in Auschwitz. Wiesel moved the time period the to 17th century in Poland during a series of pogroms. In the small town of Shamgorod, it is Purim, a generally joyous holiday that celebrates the prevention of a massacre of Jews by Queen Esther. Some Purimshpielers (Purim entertainers), stop at the town inn to see if ...more
Oct 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
In 1945, a teenage Elie Wiesel was a prisoner in Auschwitz with his father. Wiesel claims to have witnessed a trial conducted by three rabbis who charged God with breaking His covenant with the Jewish people. The rabbis found God guilty as charged...then left the barracks to go and pray. None of the rabbis survived the death camp, nor did any of Wiesel's relatives.

Wiesel wrote the play The Trial of God to dramatize the trial he witnessed in Auschwitz. Set in a small medieval village somewhere in
Nov 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Elie Wiesel as a 12 year old at Auschwitz witnessed three renowned Rabbi's hold a 'trial of God'. They found God guilty, guilty for the crimes committed on the Jews in the holocaust, guilty for allowing his chosen people to suffer (inhumanely), and for allowing his creation to commit these atrocities - sometimes even in His name.

I've previously read Night (autobiographical of his time in the camp) and Twilight (a novel about a post-Holocaust survivor). Elie is a fantastic writer who cuts down to
Nov 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
In "The Trial of God," Wiesel returns to the theological questions that drive "Night" and his other books. How can a just God allow such suffering? The survivors of a pogrom and a trio of traveling minstrels looking to perform a Purim play put God on trial. The only problem is that no one is willing to serve as God's defense attorney -- until a stranger steps forward. The stranger puts forth an eloquent defense of God's goodness, but the implications of his words change from comforting to ...more
Beautiful. Weaves an earnest, ugly ache as old as time and fresh as a sudden wound. Believing God is in charge amidst evil and merciless pain is a scream that echoes from the bottom of our toes until we've cried our eyes red and sobbed our lungs raw. Then we finish with what we started with, a God that knows more than we do who has chosen not to answer our whys but is still in charge. The conviction to hold God accountable, to feel heard, to feel understood, vindicated tries to harmonise with a ...more
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Eliezer Wiesel was a Romania-born American novelist, political activist, and Holocaust survivor of Hungarian Jewish descent. He was the author of over 40 books, the best known of which is Night, a memoir that describes his experiences during the Holocaust and his imprisonment in several concentration camps.

Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. The Norwegian Nobel Committee called him a
“Don't you know them? They don't need Jews to unleash a pogrom against Jews.” 0 likes
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