BERLIN — Israel’s chief Ashkenazi rabbi marked the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht with a visit to a Jewish kindergarten in Berlin.
“Connecting Jews in Germany to their roots is the worthiest retort to the darkness that prevailed here 75 years ago,” Rabbi David Lau said during his first official visit to Berlin, where he went to the Chabad-run Judische Traditionsschule Talmud-Thora kindergarten.
Riots on Nov. 9-10, 1938, organized by German authorities, killed 91 Jews, destroyed 267 synagogues and were followed by the deportation of 30,000 Jews to concentration camps.
The systematized attacks, which came to be known as Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass,” anticipated the mass slaughter of European Jewry launched three years later.
During his visit, Rabbi Lau was scheduled to attend the General Assembly of the Conference of European Rabbis, which brought 200 members from across Europe to the German capital for the first time.
The conference, held 75 years to the day since Kristallnacht, also marked the 10th anniversary of Germany’s Orthodox Rabbinical Council. Conference members attended a Kristallnacht memorial ceremony at the Beth Zion Synagogue in former East Berlin, which survived the 1938 pogrom and is now part of the Rabbinerseminar zu Berlin.
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Speaking in Washington to mark the 75th anniversary of this pogrom that presaged the Holocaust, U.S. President Barack Obama said the lesson of Kristallnacht is to speak out “against anti-Semitism and intolerance.”
“Kristallnacht foreshadowed the systematic slaughter of six million Jews and millions of other innocent victims,” Obama said in a statement.
“Seventy-five years later, Kristallnacht now signifies the tragic consequences of silence in the face of unmitigated hatred,” he said. “As we mark this anniversary, let us act in keeping with the lessons of that dark night by speaking out against anti-Semitism and intolerance, standing up to indifference and re-committing ourselves to combating prejudice and persecution wherever it exists.”