Let there be light against hateRabbi Fred Guttman / October 29, 2020
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We have an opportunity on November 9 to come together with people throughout the planet and to take a stand against all forms of bias, bigotry, racism and antisemitism.
Throughout the world, in commemoration of the anniversary of the terrible anti-Jewish riot known as Kristallnacht, lights will be kept on in houses of worship, institutions and private homes.
This international demonstration against hate is part of a global campaign of unity called “Let There Be Light.”
This is an international project organized by the International March of the Living, an organization which for the past 30 years has organized trips to Poland for Jews and non-Jews in remembrance of The Holocaust.
There is no cost to join this effort. Thus far, synagogues, churches and mosques throughout the world – from Australia to South Africa, from South America to North America, from Europe to the Middle East (including a mosque in Dubai) – have committed to participate. They will join institutions and individuals who are uniting in solidarity against all forms of bias, hatred, racism, anti-Semitism and intolerance.
November 9-10, 1938 will forever remain as a horrific memory in the eyes of the Jewish people and the history of humankind.
On that night, a government-organized series of anti-Jewish riots took place throughout Germany. When the government stopped the riots after the two days, more than 1,000 synagogues had been burned.
The sacred Torah scrolls and the religious books on the inside of these holy structures were destroyed. More than 7,000 Jewish businesses were ransacked. Around 30,000 men were arrested and deported to German concentration camps such as Dachau, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen.
In the aftermath, these riots were given the name “Kristallnacht” – “The Night of the Broken Glass.”
Kristallnacht historically marks the most significant beginning of massive violent actions against Jews. For the Jewish people in Europe, it was the beginning of the end.
When the Nazi Holocaust was over in 1945, six million Jews, including 1,500,000 children and 250,000 Roma (Gypsies), had been murdered.
We only need to recall the event at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to know that houses of worship are being attacked with a greater and deadlier frequency than in recent memory.
In light of this sad fact, I would like to invite all institutions, especially religious ones, and individuals to participate in a demonstrative and visible stand against bias, bigotry, antisemitism, intolerance and hate in all its many and nefarious forms.
On the MOTL website, a page has been created to allow houses of faith, as well as institutions and individuals to submit a personal written commitment or accept a general commitment to keep the lights on and to “unite the world by shining light over the darkness of hate” To join those throughout the world who have already committed to “keep the lights on,” please go to https://kristallnacht.motl.org/#contact
The Frankfurt Jewish community’s 100-year-old Westend Synagogue, the first synagogue to be destroyed, will keep its lights on.
This demonstration of unity will be occurring a mere six days after the U.S. election and could very well, and hopefully will, be a constructive and healing activity.
Please urge congregations, institutions and individuals to join this demonstration.
May the day come very soon when bigotry will be replaced by understanding, hatred by compassion and violence by peace!
Fred Guttmann is the senior rabbi of Temple Emanuel in Greensboro.