Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Piecing Together the Broken Glass

Binyamin Rose, Berlin

There is no continent where anti-Semitism played, and continues to play, as strong a role in Jews’ daily lives as in Europe. On the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, Mishpacha’s news editor Binyamin Rose visited Berlin, where it all began. Despite encouraging growth and renewed commitment, eerie echoes of past hatred are all too audible on this blood-soaked continent. Is there a future for Jewish life in Europe?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Berlin, GermanyThe passage of 75 years has not dimmed Eli Fachler’s vivid memories of crouching, frozen in horror, on the night of November 9, 1938, peering out the window in his family’s home at the synagogue across the courtyard, as Nazi marauders burned the shul — where his father served as gabbai — to the ground.

It was the night that became known as Kristallnacht — the night of the broken glass. Dozens of Jews were killed, thousands of Jewish homes and institutions destroyed and plundered. The shards of broken glass that littered the streets ofGermanyandAustriaon that night signified an end to Jewish life inEurope, and the beginning of the ravages of the Holocaust. 

Eli Fachler was only 15 then, but on this same night last Sunday, 75 years later, he stood upright and proud at the podium in front of the aron kodesh at Berlin’s Beit Zion Synagogue, rebuilt on the ashes of the structure that burned before his eyes that night.

The occasion was Berlin’s commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, timed in concert with the 28th biennial convention of the Conference of European Rabbis. Speaking in fluent German to an audience of rabbanim, Jewish community leaders, and German government officials, Fachler relived how his parents were subsequently whisked away to concentration camps, and eventually, his own flight fromBerlin on the Kindertransport.

In front of the packed audience, including members of an international press corps that filled an upstairs gallery, Fachler made a shehecheyanu in the new Beit Zion. In the presence of his children and grandchildren, he held aloft the shofar and the slightly tarnished silver Kiddush cup that his Uncle Gershon, the shul’s chazzan, rescued from the burning embers of the synagogue.

His appearance was the epitome of the ultimate triumph of the Jew over his enemies, a sentiment echoed by Hans-Peter Friedrich,Germany’s minister of the interior. “Germany’s 110,000 Jews are a matter of national pride and also a reminder to us not to let our guard down in the continuing fight against any and all manifestations of anti-Semitism,” he said.


To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Is Ktchong! a Mitzvah? When Prayer and Charity Collide
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman These cannot both be done effectively at the same time
An Honest Shidduch
Jacob L. Freedman “Baruch Hashem I’m cured, and this will be my secret”
The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War.
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchak Eisenman Usually, the only person to find fault with is the one i...
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “I don’t want to take any medications and I’m afraid you...
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Raising a difficult child is difficult — but you can mak...
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
Zivia Reischer and D. Himy “I never realized there was anything wrong with Chevy, a...