By Lauren Bloomberg
Next Thursday, November 9, marks the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass. On this night, anti-Jewish violence erupted throughout the Reich, which included Austria and the Sudetenland. Within 48 hours, more than 1,000 synagogues were burned along with Torah scrolls and prayer books. Over 7,000 businesses were damaged or destroyed, Jewish cemeteries, homes, schools, and hospitals were vandalized. Jews were killed and 30,000 Jewish men aged 16-60 were rounded up and taken to Dachau, Buchenwald, and Sachsenhausen concentration camps (The World Must Know, Michael Berenbaum). When the chaos subsided, this pogrom, given the name of Kristallnacht, was the final shattering of Jewish existence in Germany. The attackers and perpetrators of these hideous crimes were often former friends and neighbors of the Jewish community.
Local Holocaust Survivor, Ruth Lansing, recalls her experience of Kristallnacht in her Holocaust testimony: “At the time, I was staying with a family in Dusseldorf, Germany- an hour away from my parents. A mob gathered in front of the house where I was staying. This was followed by the sound of breaking glass and the sickening crash of a door being kicked in. Four or five men stomped in, they proceeded to throw everything they could lay their hands on out the windows- furniture, crystal, china, silver, clothes, even a piano. No sooner after they left, two-armed storm troopers appeared and arrested my host. Luckily, I was able to get home to my parents, and thankfully they were safe and their possessions unharmed.”
The trauma, destruction, and terror of Kristallnacht experienced by our Jewish relatives is too familiar to the attack on our Jewish brothers and sisters in Israel endured on October 7th. During the holidays of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, Hamas terrorists launched an unprecedented attack on Israel from Gaza. Innocent Jewish people were kidnapped, tortured, and killed. Homes were burned and destroyed. Holocaust survivors, who had experienced unimaginable atrocities 85 years ago, were among the victims.
Our hearts are shattered and broken. We are at a loss about what we can do from the safety of our own homes here in Western New York. We can demonstrate our solidarity for Israel by sending money to Israel through our Emergency Campaign (Click HERE to contribute) and we can gather as a Jewish community. On November 9, at 7 pm our Kristallnacht Commemoration will be held at Temple Beth Zion, 805 Delaware. We will join in music and prayer and hear Evie Weinstein and Ellen Dubie, children of Holocaust survivors, as they share their parents’ first-hand experiences of Kristallnacht.
Later that weekend, on November 12, Dan Grunfeld, grandson of Holocaust survivors and author of the acclaimed book By the Grace of the Game, will tell his riveting story of a former professional basketball player, who played in Israel, and tell his family’s journey from Auschwitz to the NBA. Join us at 6:30 pm at Kenmore West High School for this powerful discussion moderated by Marc Brown. Register HERE!
By coming together as a community, we can grieve and support each other in healing. May the memory of the lives lost in both the Shoah and terrorist attack in Israel always be for a blessing.
Lauren Bloomberg is the Director of the Holocaust Education Resource Organization (HERO) and the proud granddaughter of a Holocaust Survivor.