But the Jewish Spirit Cannot Be Broken

But the Jewish Spirit Cannot Be Broken

Just this past week, the Jewish community observed the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht, “The Night of Broken Glass.” This organized action attacking the Jewish communities across Germany marked a turning point for German Jewry. One of the main items on Adolf Hitler’s agenda for Europe was ridding the continent of all Jews. As soon as he gained office in 1933, the persecution of Jews began on a sporadic basis. Many who worked in the government or universities lost their jobs. On September 15, 1935, passage of the Nuremberg Laws deprived German Jews of their citizenship. Many emigrated, but most remained because they did not realize the depths of Hitler’s hatred.

The pretext for expanded persecution came to Hitler when a German diplomat, Ernst vom Rath, was assassinated in Paris by a Polish Jew named Herschel Grynszpan on Nov. 7, 1938. News of the killing reached Hitler in Munich. His propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, after conferring with Hitler, urged the Nazi Storm Troopers to begin “spontaneous” reprisals against Jews throughout Germany.

On the night of November 9-10 more than 7,000 Jewish businesses were destroyed, nearly one hundred Jews were killed and hundreds injured, and more than 175 synagogues were demolished. This violent night would later be called Kristallnacht, “The Night of Broken Glass.” Further actions were taken in subsequent weeks.

While so much glass was shattered on those fateful nights eight decades ago, and though we came to realize that the Jewish world would never be the same after the Holocaust, it is also true that the Jewish spirit could not be broken. Even by the horrors of such darkness! Today, vital and thriving Jewish communities around the world are a testament to the enduring resilience of the Jewish people. As Jews, we now look back on those terrible times to remember and to never forget what happens when evil and hatred are given free reign. We remember, too, our obligation to fight inhumanity and oppression wherever we find it in our world today, whether it appears as anti-semitism, white nationalism or persecution of any people anywhere at any time. The lasting legacy of the Holocaust is that when one of us is attacked or vilified we are all being threatened and attacked!

Each year we strive to organize a special program around the time of Kristallnacht to commemorate that event and to learn about some aspect of the Holocaust. We are very pleased that this year, on Sunday, November 17th from 2-4 pm in the Social Hall, our Bet Haverim partner, Dr. Kathy Glatter, will present, through our Adult Education committee, a personal and historical perspective on her research on the Hungarian Jewish community during WWII. Kathy introduces her presentation by noting that “I traced my family’s hidden Hungarian Jewish history after hiring a professional genealogist. Having visited relatives in Budapest 15 times, I will share beautiful photos of spectacular synagogues and cultural Jewish icons which were never destroyed, plus share their Holocaust stories. This lecture will appeal to those interested in Jewish history and culture, the Holocaust, and genealogy. Delicious treats from the Austro-Hungarian Empire will be provided.”

We hope that you will join us for this fascinating lecture about the cultural treasures of Hungarian Jewry that survived the horrors of the Holocaust. In addition, Kathy’s personal family story is an inspiring one which will capture your imagination and provide ample opportunity to learn about this important part of our Jewish history.


Rabbi Greg Wolfe