by Chris Cole
In a world where people fear terrorism every day, it is easy to forget the horrors of the past.
On Nov. 14, Campus Ministry and The Julius and Dorothy Koppelman Holocaust/Genocide Resource Center teamed up to change that and remember Kristallnacht, or the “Night of Broken Glass.”
An Interfaith Commemoration of Kristallnacht was presented in Gill Chapel to remember the night of Nov. 9, 1938, when members of the Nazi party, under Hitler’s order, destroyed 8,000 Jewish shops before sending German Jews to concentration and death camps.
“It’s hard to come together when there’s evil lurking around,” said Dr. Elizabeth Scheiber, coordinator of Commemorative Activities. “We see it in the current news, so we have to know our past so that we don’t repeat it.”
Dr. Harvey Kornberg, professor of Political Science, directed the commemoration and set the historical setting of Kristallnacht within the grand scheme of the Holocaust.
“The violence against the Jews was primarily aimed at denying Jews civil rights and was wholesale persecution against them,” Kornberg said. “The Jews were ordered to pay an atonement fee as punishment for the assassination of Ernst von Rath; [so] the Jewish shops were smashed in by the Nazis. With Kristallnacht, the road to Auschwitz began.”
Under the conduction of Dr. Elayne Robinson Grossman, the select Jewish choir of Central New Jersey performed a selection of songs from composer Sharim V’Sharot. The songs were meant to remember the victims of the Holocaust, “both those who perished and those who survived, who had to carry with them the burden of still being alive while their loved ones perished,” she said.
Grossman added that there was meaning and spirit in each of the songs performed. Before each piece she gave a brief but effective history behind each song and its relation to Kristallnacht.
“The Jews showed their spirit through song,” she said. “The songs represent the vibrant life of the community and those who tried and did resist.”
Kornberg said everything about the commemoration was pitch perfect, including the speakers, history and especially the choir.
“They set the right tone and everything fit in just right from introduction to the choir,” he said. “I was very happy with it.”
Grossman emphasized the relevance of Kristallnacht in today’s world — one filled with hate and destruction.
“Programs like this prove that we have to stand against tyranny,” Grossman said. “From the protests in Burma to the devastation in Darfur, people are still fighting to defend their beliefs.”