News From Ramaz

79th Anniversary of Kristallnacht -- A Morning Of Reflection at the US with Four Guest Speakers
Posted 11/13/2017 12:22AM


We were honored to have special guests address our students at each grade's morning minyan on Thursday, November 9th, the 79th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the infamous "Night of Broken Glass." Three of our speakers had their young lives brutally affected, as that night is viewed as the beginning of the Final Solution and The Holocaust. The important message that resonated with our students was "the dangers of silence in the face of evil."

Alumna Atara Burian '10 introduced her grandmother, Mrs. Ruth Zimbler. Although Mrs. Zimbler needed to remain seated while she spoke, her well-spoken manner and passion captured the students' attention, and they listened in awe as she shared her story. Mrs. Zimbler was a ten year old little girl in Vienna when she saw her synagogue smoking, and that day for her marked the end of childhood innocence and the beginning of her saga of survival.

Rabbi Haskel Lookstein spoke to the senior grade, many of whom will be going to Poland in the spring, and the Rabbi referenced the second chapter in his book, "Were We Our Brothers' Keepers?" which focuses solely on Kristallnacht. The question he raised captures the essence of the morning's theme: Had American Jewry known in 1938 what the future held in store for German Jewry would its reaction to Kristallnacht have been substantially different?

Alumnus Eugene Major '80 introduced his mother, Mrs. Gabriella Major. In 1944, when Mrs. Major was a mere toddler the Germans invaded her town, Debrecen, Hungary. By happenstance, there was a detour and instead of being sent to the notorious death camp, Auschwitz, they were sent to Strasshof, a labor camp. Her survival is unquestionably a miracle. Mrs. Major noted Kristallnacht was a signal that was largely ignored by the rest of the world, and gave Hitler free reign to annihilate the Jews.

Mrs. Danièle Gorlin Lassner '55 spoke of her brave mother, Liselotte Samuel Gorlin, z"l. In 1939, while her husband was in the US purchasing plane parts for France, Liselotte oversaw a children's colony in Southern France for refugee children whose parents were terrified that Paris would be bombed at any moment. They had come to Paris seeking refuge from Germany after Kristallnacht. The Gorlins left Paris in May 1940, and three weeks later, in June 1940, Hitler invaded France. As Mrs. Lassner humbly said,

"There, but for the grace of God..." Thanks to our special guests our students understood the imperative message of commemorating Kristallnacht:

The free world's muted reaction to the Kristallnacht pogrom foreshadowed the terrible silence with which it would greet the Nazi's Final Solution. Each speaker asked that "We never stand by while unjust acts occur and that we take action against injustice."

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