Kristallnacht Commemoration

On Wednesday, November 9, 2016, the institute hosted its annual Kristallnacht Commemoration with award-winning Holocaust educator Noémi Ban.

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More than 425 guests attended the event, including Uzma Ahmad pictured above with Noémi Ban. Mrs. Ban spoke about her experience during the Holocaust, including her imprisonment in Auschwitz and her work as a slave laborer in a sub-camp of Buchenwald.

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What is Kristallnacht? 78 years ago, on November 9 and 10, 1938, a wave of violent anti-Jewish pogroms swept through Germany, annexed Austria, and the Sudetenland. Ordinary men and women, teenage boys and girls, instigated by government agencies, burned synagogues, raided businesses, invaded houses, attacked and murdered neighbors. In the wake of these anti-Jewish pogroms, 30,000 males were sent to concentration camps, and “in the weeks that followed, the German government promulgated dozens of laws and decrees designed to deprive Jews of their property and of their means of livelihood” (Holocaust Encyclopedia, USHMM). Our annual Kristallnacht Commemoration reminds us what happened when hate became accepted state policy in Nazi Germany in January 1933.

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The late Eli Wiesel reminds us: “If I were alone in the world, I would have the right to choose despair, solitude, and self-fulfillment. But I am not alone.” Mrs. Ban’s tireless work exemplifies his principle of consideration for others. Compassion, kindness, empathy, tolerance. Like Eli Wiesel, she did not choose despair or solitude or self-fulfillment. Mrs. Ban teaches us that sharing is healing, that the community around us has the power to lift us up and shelter us, no matter how difficult the circumstances. She teaches us not give up hope but to be compassionate, to address the challenges we face directly, and to be vigilant in the face of injustice.
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A big thank you to all of our student volunteers from CEED, German, Hillel, and Special Ed. If you would like to become a student volunteer, please contact the institute’s student volunteer coordinator, Joshua Stromberg.