Yaakov Dov Bleich: Synagogues of Ukraine will turn on the lights on the anniversary of “Kristallnacht” (The Night of Broken Glass)

Yaakov Dov Bleich: Synagogues of Ukraine will turn on the lights on the anniversary of “Kristallnacht” (The Night of Broken Glass)

On November 9, as part of the international campaign Let There Be Light, synagogues around the world keep the lights on as a sign of unity.

As part of the partnership of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center with The March of the Living, dozens of synagogues in Ukraine will turn on the lights on the evening of November 9.

Let There Be Light international initiative of the March of the Living invites people, institutions and houses of worship around the world to turn on the lights on the night of November 9 to November 10 to commemorate the events of the “The Night of Broken Glass”. As part of this initiative, messages of hope from people around the world will be projected onto the places of religious and spiritual significance around the world.

Also under the Let There Be Light initiative, the words of prayer, hope and unity written by thousands of people from around the world are projected onto the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. Prominent international politicians and figures, including the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, Nathan Shcharansky, have also left their messages:

“Manifestations of anti-Semitism in the Nazi Germany grew from year to year, but the world refused to see what they were leading to. “Kristallnacht” symbolized the transition from words to physical violence, while the world still refused to see the truth. It all started with the destruction of synagogues and ended with the extermination of the European Jewry. The historical lesson is to fight anti-Semitism from the beginning, and any manifestations of verbal hatred before they reach the physical stage.”

The initiative was supported by Yaakov Dov Bleich, Chief Rabbi of Kyiv and Ukraine (President of the Association of Jewish Religious Organizations of Ukraine, Member of the Presidium of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine and Member of the Supervisory Board of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center):

“The world must learn a lesson – never sit back and do nothing when evil is committed against a nation, people or religion. The Let There Be Light initiative should be a wake-up call and a reminder to all of the need to respond decisively to discrimination and intolerance.”

On the night of November 9 to November 10, 1938, the “Kristallnacht” took place in the territory of the Third Reich (Germany, Austria and the Sudetenland) – the Jewish pogroms, which became the first mass act of physical violence of the Third Reich against the Jewish population on the eve of the Holocaust. Synagogues were set on fire that night, and hundreds of Jewish homes and shops were looted. The streets were covered with broken glass, which is why this event is also called “The Night of Broken Glass”.

In the two days of the pogroms, more than 1,400 synagogues and Jewish institutions were destroyed. During the pogrom, the SS and Gestapo arrested up to 30,000 Jews and later sent them to Dachau, Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen, and other concentration camps. At least 91 Jews were killed on the night of the pogrom.

The International Day Against Fascism, Racism and Anti-Semitism is held annually to remember the events of the “Kristallnacht”.

The March of The Living is the largest international educational program devoted to the Holocaust. As part of the march, every year people from all over the world walk the 3.2 kilometer route of the railway line between the Nazi concentration camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau. To date, more than 300,000 people from 52 countries have taken part in the March of Life.