Petaluma's Inclusive Center for Jewish Life

80th Anniversary of Kristallnacht

80th Anniversary of Kristallnacht

Nov 09, 2018

On the evening of November 9, 1938 the Jewish community of Germany experienced death and destruction as Nazi sympathizers rampaged through the streets. Jewish businesses and synagogues were destroyed and lives were lost. Now, eighty years later we are experiencing a precipitous rise of nationalism here in America, on the European continent and elsewhere. As someone commented to me this morning, "when nationalism rises, so does anti-Semitism.'

Last Saturday's gathering at B'nai Israel was certainly heartening for our community. To sit in a room with such a diverse group of people reminded us that we are not always alone. While I readily recognize that this current rise in nationalism has become a threat to a number of vulnerable populations, last week and this are reminders that, once again, the Jewish population is part of the current vulnerabilities.

Kristallnacht led to the "Final Solution," the decision to eliminate the Jewish population from the world. Here it is, eighty years later and we are still here and, in some ways, stronger and more present. We have had a generally comfortable Jewish community in America and we have a State of Israel. While this is true, it is also more complex than it seems. Anti-Israel sentiment in the world has been rising and now, in America and Europe, the number of anti-Semitic incidents is on the rise.

This observance of Kristallnacht, therefore, comes, as most things in life do, as a two-sided coin. On one hand, Jews were not eliminated from the world and we are here to tell our story. On the other hand, the spirit of the perpetrators of Kristallnacht still abides in our midst.

As we remember that horrific night, I think we need to strengthen our resolve that we will constantly strive for the survival of our people and for the rights of all who seek a world of compassion and peace. Only then, in   cooperation with others, will we be able to recall over and over moments of pain and moments of joyous redemption.

During our services tomorrow morning we will remember those events of 80 years ago and add words of healing for our current generations alive seeking to build bonds of strength to overcome the acute possibility of evil in our world.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Ted Feldman