God on Trial Synopsis

Warning: Contains plot spoilers

A tour party arrives at Auschwitz, and as the guide leads the visitors through the camp, the scene moves to life in a block house on one day during the war.

A group of prisoners undergo a "selection" as a doctor chooses those who are to be sent to the gas chamber. It is not clear which way means survival or death. Among the prisoners are Mordechai, his father Kuhn and a young man Moche.

Moche declares that God should be put on trial for letting his people down. Schmidt, a rabbi, explains that challenging God is not without precedent.

Schmidt sets about establishing a rabbinical court, which requires three judges. The German Baumgarten, who used to be a Professor of Law, agrees to be the Head of the Court. Schmidt, himself a scholar, takes on the role of the Father of the Court. Mordechai insists on being the Dayan, or the questioner.

Proceedings start as Mordechai frames the charge: God is in breach of contract and has failed to fulfil his covenant. Kuhn defends God, arguing that Auschwitz is a test of their faith.

Mordechai calls his first witness. Ezra describes how much the people of his village loved God. Yet still the Nazis came and shot the elderly and took the rest to concentration camps.

Baumgarten argues that if God is indeed punishing Jews, then the punishment is not in proportion to any crime they may have committed. Schmidt steps in, claiming that God's punishments aren't always proportionate, and suggests the Holocaust could be a "purification."

Mordechai calls the Block Altester, the prisoner in charge of the inmates, who explains that his concern is to survive, and that he does so by keeping the Jews in line.

Mordechai asks Schmidt if God is so powerful, why does he not help his people? Schmidt retorts that God granted man free will. Idek backs him up, and this enrages Moche, who urges Lieble to tell the court about his sons and a horrific choice he was forced to make.

The trial is interrupted abruptly by the arrival of a Nazi officer. The newcomers undress and are forcibly shaved and tattooed, before returning to the blockhouse and resuming the trial.

Schmidt tries to sum up by announcing that the mind of God cannot be known, and all they can do is trust him. Baumgarten asks Idek to recite the psalm which records God's promise to the Jewish people. Idek struggles to recite Psalm 81.

Jacques, a scientist, argues God is an illusion and is used by rulers to exercise power. He warns that the Jewish people thought they were the chosen people, but they were wrong.

The judges confer and prepare to announce their verdict. As Baumgarten begins to introduce the ruling, Akiba, the mystical rabbi of Zamkevitz, who has been entirely silent throughout the trial, suddenly speaks. Akiba launches into a series of questions that explore God's actions from the escape from Egypt to the present day.

Back in the present day, tourists enter the gas chambers. Returning to the blockhouse, the guards arrive and the doctor reads off the numbers of those selected for the gas chambers.

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