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‘Night Of Broken Glass’ Remembered At B-N’s Moses Montefiore Temple

'Kristallnacht' in German translates to the Night of Broken Glass.

The Holocaust began 82 years ago this week with Kristallnacht, or “the night of broken glass.” Moses Montefiore in Bloomington on Monday participated in a worldwide remembrance of that night by illuminating its temple.

Jewish-owned stores, buildings and synagogues were smashed by Nazis who left broken glass covering the streets. Authorities looked on without intervening.

“When the Nazis came into Germany and Austria, they destroyed buildings and glass was all over,” said Moses Montefiore Rabbi Rebecca Dubowe.

More than 7,000 Jewish businesses were damaged or destroyed, and 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps. Estimates of fatalities from the attacks have varied. Early reports estimated that 91 Jews were murdered. Modern analysis puts the death toll in the hundreds. 

Dubowe said there is still anti-Semitism and hatred worldwide.

“We have to remind people, it’s still around,” she said. “We have to remind our neighbors, community leaders, friends and people that we work with that it could happen here. It has happened in the past.”

This week, the Bloomington temple participated in the International March of The Living for the first time in its history.

“This is the first we are participating in the campaign because the last four years the ant-Semitism has increased so much,” said Dubowe. “Typically, we do something within the worship services to remember that evening. But today is actually the first time we are turning on the lights and leaving them on all night long. We hope that when people drive and say, ‘There is the synagogue. We do need to be reminded of the horrors of Holocaust, but also the fact that anti-Semitism exists,’” said Dubowe. 

She said this was an educational opportunity, adding the temple informed the police department that the lights would be left on, even though no one would be in the building due to the pandemic. 

“Most of us feel that we live in a community that is very respectful and tolerant of people who are different and have different faith beliefs,” said Dubowe. “The next town over or two, it is happening. There has been vandalism in a number of synagogues within the state of Illinois. For right now, we have been very fortunate, yet that’s why we have to rely on people.” 

Kristallnacht marked the beginning of the Holocaust. Dubowe said the illumination of the temple was supposed to be a symbol of hope. 

“The reason why it is important to remember this is to remind people of the dangers that come from leaving anti-Semitism unchecked and to recognize the fact that we do need to continue to remain united,” said Dubowe. “To stand up against anti-semitism, and all forms of hatred, bigotry and intolerance.”

Dubowe emphasized that turning on the lights is an international, interfaith statement. More than 40 countries are participating in the campaign.

“Turning on the lights represents the power of hope,” said Dubowe. “Because of the work the community has done inside and outside of synagogue, I truly feel we are unified in many different ways. At the same time, we are a minority here. There are times where people have not met a Jewish person before, and we are constantly indicating to be open-minded. We are very proud to be a part of this community although we have different faiths. This is something we wanted to do to remind the community that there is hope and that we have to share our light together.”

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