Spring 2009 Issue
At least 91 Jews were murdered and 25,000 to 30,000 arrested and deported to concentration camps during Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass.
The devastation began November 9, 1938 with the destruction of more than 200 synagogues and the ransacking of thousands of Jewish homes and businesses. Lasting into the morning of November 10, Kristallnacht marked the beginning of the systematic eradication of the Jewish people in what would become the Holocaust.
As the world honored the 70th anniversary of this event, more than 100 students, faculty and staff gathered at Barry University November 6 to commemorate the night and remember victims and survivors.
Rabbi Solomon Schiff addressed the Barry community, calling attention to the need for education and vigilance in order to prevent history from ever repeating itself.
“Those who forget their history are condemned to repeat it,” he said. “This is a reminder of what can happen when people give into their basest instincts of bigotry and hatred…If we don’t speak up in the site and the place where evil takes place, than we become unwitting participants.”
Although Rabbi Schiff’s words were a call to remembrance, there were also those in the audience who needed none.
“We are here not just to remember history, but to honor those who are alive,” said Avi Mizrachi, executive director of the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach.
Two such survivors, Joseph Dziubak and Isaak Klein, were present at the event to answer questions and to tell of their experience. Both were teenagers at the time of the Holocaust and survived what can only be termed unimaginable horrors.
In addition to raising awareness of the historic night, the event also brought attention to struggles in our own time. After the ceremony Schiff answered questions on issues such as immigration, genocide in Darfur and Iranian President Muhammad Ahmadinejad.
“When people are distant from us, we distrust and we fear,” he said. “But, as we come closer, we see that people are the same. Those fears and those distant apparitions won’t be lessened until we realize we are part of the same family.”
In addition to Rabbi Schiff’s address, the night also included a traditional Kaddish, or Jewish mourning prayer, and the ceremonial lighting the six candles of the menorah in honor of the six million victims of the Holocaust. The event was sponsored by Barry’s Interfaith Committee.