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Norwegian students cancel Kristallnacht events on political grounds

By David Swindle

As events were scheduled to mark the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht, one was “unscheduled” at a high school in Norway, where students reportedly found the event to be too political.

“If taking sides between the Nazis and the 6 million Jews they murdered is becoming a political issue for you, then something went totally wrong with your educational system,” wrote Israeli Ambassador to Norway Avi Nir-Feldklein.

Commemorations did occur globally on the anniversary of the events that took place on Nov. 9-10, 1938, when Nazis murdered 91 Jews, burnt more than 1,400 synagogues and destroyed many Jewish-owned businesses in Germany and Austria on Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass.” (Scholars now say there may have been hundreds killed.)

King Charles met with Holocaust survivors, who lived through the Kindertransport (rescue efforts that brought Jewish children to the United Kingdom), at Central Synagogue in London. “His majesty the king is an exemplar of chesed, of lovingkindness, and it was so moving to welcome him today at the Association of Jewish Refugees commemoration of the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht,” wrote Ephraim Mirvis, chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth.

The Portuguese Synagogue (Esnoga) in Amsterdam turned out the lights and lit thousands of candles for its Kristallnacht commemoration.

Stateside, commemorations included a talk by Elisha Wiesel, son of Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, at New York’s Orangetown Jewish Center. A concert was held at Congregation Beth Haverim Shir Shalom in Mahwah, N.J., of music banned by the Nazis.

The Florida Holocaust Museum’s annual commemoration will feature guest speaker Stacy Bernard Davis, deputy special envoy for Holocaust issues at the U.S. Department of State. A public library in Corona, Calif., plans to co-host a Kristallnacht event with Congregation Beth Shalom. The speaker, Harry Davids, was born in Nazi-occupied Holland in 1942 and grew up without knowing his birth parents. (Brandeis University will also host a Holocaust survivor.)

Several interfaith events also occurred. The Jewish Federation of Reading/Berks in Pennsylvania held a “circle of light peace vigil” on Wednesday night with Christ Episcopal Church. The vigil was followed by an interfaith service and was part of the Federation’s annual Kristallnacht commemoration.

In Davenport, Iowa, the Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities, First Baptist Church, Holocaust Education Committee of the Quad Cities and Understanding Works NFP held a commemoration on Nov. 8. Allan Ross spoke about his father, Holocaust survivor Ladislav Rasofsky.

The Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education and the Fish Interfaith Center at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., is hosting an “Interfaith Service of Remembrance for Kristallnacht.” The student organizations Baha’is of Chapman, Circle of the Triple Goddess (Wicca), Disciples on Campus, Hillel, Latter-day Saints Student Association, Muslim Student Association, Newman Catholic Fellowship and Purity are to participate.

The St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum in Missouri released a statement on Thursday describing the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks by Hamas on southern Israel as a pogrom.

“We deliberately choose to use the term ‘pogrom’ to describe this dark chapter in history. The term ‘Kristallnacht’ was the language of the perpetrators—a sarcastic description of a night of horror, as if the terror could be distilled down to ‘broken glass,’” the museum stated.

“It is essential to connect this event with the long history of violence against the Jewish community, recognizing that neither pogroms nor antisemitism started or ended with the Holocaust.”


CAP: Gathering outdoors for a Kristallnacht commemoration in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Nov. 9, 2023. Source: X/Twitter via Israeli Ambassador to Norway Avi Nir-Feldklein.

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