Saturday, 6 Jun 2020 - 14 of Sivan, 5780

81 years since Kristallnacht, the start of the Holocaust for the Jews of Europe

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“It it is unthinkable that Jews take off their kippah and are afraid to walk in the streets of Europe,” said Isaac Herzog, Chairman of the Jewish Agency, at the Central Orthodox Synagogue of Berlin.

BERLIN—“On Saturday, 81 years will have passed since Kristallnacht, the pogrom across 1,000 German synagogues, when the Holocaust started for the Jews of Europe,” Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog told members of the Jewish community in Berlin, addressing the rise of antisemitism in Germany and across Europe.

“It it is unthinkable that Jews take off their kippah… and are afraid to walk in the streets of Europe,” he stressed Thursday at the Central Orthodox Synagogue of Berlin.

It’s been 81 years since Kristallnacht (“The Night of Broken Glass”), when Nazis torched synagogues, vandalized thousands of Jewish homes, schools and businesses, and killed nearly 100 Jews on the night of Nov. 9-10, 1938 in what was a precursor of things to come in Germany. In the aftermath, some 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps.

Herzog and the rabbi of the Berlin synagogue, Yitshak Ehrenberg, recited the mourner’s Kaddish in remembrance of those systematically murdered in Holocaust.

During WWII, the Central Orthodox Synagogue housed the B’nai B’rith lodge of the city’s Jewish community and was later converted into a Jewish school. The synagogue, according to Ehrenberg, was one of the main locations in the city where yellow stars were distributed to Jews for identification. In 1942, after the mass deportation of the Jewish community, the Nazis took over the building and turned it into a sports arena.

The synagogue, unlike most of the others in Berlin, was not destroyed by the Nazis and after the war was returned to the Jewish community.

After the synagogue commemoration, Herzog attended a ceremony where the European Janusz Korczak Academy presented Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Berlin-based media group Axel Springer SE and president of the Federation of German Newspaper Publishers, with an award to recognize his efforts to combat antisemitism.

The biannual Korczak Prize for Humanism is awarded by the academy, a strategic partner of the Jewish Agency, for outstanding contributions to advancing tolerance, human rights and the fight against racism and hatred.

Döpfner, who heads Germany’s largest publishing house, has been praised for his vocal opposition to rising antisemitism in Germany and abroad, and his efforts to boost ties between Germany and the State of Israel.


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