The NH Council of Churches invites you to commemorate Kristallnacht by leaving the lights on in your church building all night from Monday, November 9 to Tuesday, November 10, 2020. We have been invited to this action by the Rabbis of our state and this is a demonstration of solidarity with them against antisemitism and religious persecution.
This act is also a public statement that, “I pledge to unite the world by shining light over the darkness of hate,” in the words of International March of the Living.
For more information about Kristallnacht and the importance of remembering it today, see this letter from Rabbi Beth D. Davidson of Temple Adath Yeshurun in Manchester:
On November 9 and 10, 1938, Jewish communities around the world remember Kristallnacht, “The Night of Broken Glass, ” when Nazi Stormtroopers and civilians swept through Nazi Germany, Austria and the Sudetenland, attacking Jewish owned businesses, community buildings, and synagogues. As the smoke from the attacks cleared, the streets were littered with shards of glass from the windows that had been smashed (hence the name Kristallnacht.) The authorities stood by and did nothing to halt the destruction, which was carried out ostensibly in response to the assassination in Paris of a German diplomat by a Jewish teen.
By the end of the pogrom, 7,000 businesses had been damaged or destroyed, 267 synagogues had been demolished, and 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Historians estimate that hundreds of Jewish men died, either as direct victims of the violence, due to injuries suffered during their incarceration, or due to suicide after arrests. Kristallnacht marks what many historians view as the beginning of the Holocaust.
How can we remember, and respond to Kristallnacht? The events of 2020 call on us to come together not simply to remember, but to stand against hatred in all its forms. This year, churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples around the world have been invited to participate in a global campaign of unity called “Let There Be Light.” This statement of unity is organized by The International March of the Living, a group which has, for the last 30 years, brought Jews and non-Jews together to Poland to learn from and in remembrance of the Holocaust.
To join “Let There Be Light,” Jewish Clergy of New Hampshire is inviting all of New Hampshire’s religious institutions to consider joining synagogues, mosques and churches around the world by leaving their exterior and interior lights on through November 9 and 10. Together we can illuminate our state and our world with the message of acceptance, understanding and peace. To learn more about those institutions which have already committed to keeping their lights on, and to sign and join in this action, you can go to https://kristallnacht.motl.org/#contact.
Private citizens too can help spread the message of “Let There Be Light.” If and when you are asked why your house of worship is all lit up, you can teach people about Kristallnacht. Sadly, houses of worship are not immune from those who carry out acts of violence against those who may be different, as is made clear by the attacks on the Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston, the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and the Notre Dame Basilica in Nice. So it remains incumbent on each and every one of us to do what we can to be points of light, and to illuminate the darkness which too often threatens our world.