Kristallnacht Commemoration 2013 Overview

Kristallnacht Commemoration

Date: November 12, 2013

Written By: Amanda Iacobellis (RCC Honors Student and HMSC Intern)

November 9, 2013 marks the 75th anniversary of the November Pogroms known as Kristallnacht. To commemorate this event the Holocaust Museum and Study Center held a memorial at the Nanuet Hebrew Center. This was a change of pace from its usual location outside the courthouse, but due to the cold weather everyone welcomed this change.

To start off the commemoration there was a candle light procession by the children attending. Then Rabbi Paul Kurland thanked and welcomed everyone for attending. Alan Moskin, a Veteran of WWII and Vice President of the Holocaust Museum, led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance. 

Following the Pledge, the children began singing the National Anthem. After the song all the children read a poem titled “Yes it could have been me”. This touching poem emphasizes the tragedy that follows silence and bystander obedience. 

Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee then spoke about the importance of commemorating Kristallnacht. She stressed the importance that the events that occurred 75 years ago must not be forgotten because there are important lessons embedded within them.  Following her speech was the beautiful choir performance by Cantor Anna Zhar and the adult choir from Temple Beth Sholom.

Then Andrea Winograd, Director of Development & Operation for the Museum, introduced the keynote speakers. Hannah and Al Zeilberger, a married couple, were both born in Germany and now live in the United States.

Hannah spoke about her and her mother’s journey to America during the war. While on a train, they were stopped by a Nazi soldier who wanted to throw them off the train because they were Jewish. However a man stood up and told the soldier to leave Hannah and her mother alone. They were able to stay on the train, and continue their journey to America because a stranger stood up for them to a Nazi soldier. This courageous act of compassion had saved them.

Al spoke about being a young boy, with joyous hope and optimism about the world. Then one night Nazi soldiers came to their house. Al explained the paralyzing fear he felt as he watched the soldiers threaten, humiliate and arrest his father. A few years later, he and his family were able to escape to Israel and then America, where he served in the war.

After their speeches Cantor Barry Kanarek sang, preceding Jeff Weinberger’s closing remarks. He spoke about the horrors the accompanied fear and prejudice and the importance of remembering the Holocaust so history can stop repeating itself. The commemoration ended with the children leading everyone in singing Hatikvah.