Let There Be Light

November 10, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Thousands of people around the world took part today in March of the Living’s global interfaith campaign “Let There Be Light”, to mark the anniversary of Kristallnacht.

Photo: – March of the Living and Oren Ben Hakoon

The initiative took place in partnership with the Jewish Community Frankfurt am Main and the Miller Center at Rutgers University. Participants in the campaign sent messages against antisemitism, hatred and intolerance and included world leaders, Kristallnacht and Holocaust survivors, public figures, celebrities, global organizations, Rabbis, Imams and Priests.

On November 9, 1938, a two-day pogrom began during which the Nazis burned more than 1,400 Synagogues and Jewish institutions in Germany and Austria on ‘Kristallnacht’ (The Night of Broken Glass), a critical moment in the chain of events that led to the Holocaust.

Participants in the “Let There Be Light campaign wrote personal messages of hope on the campaign website: www.motl.org/let-there-be-light. Many of these messages were projected this evening (Monday) onto the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem and the UK’s famous Coventry Cathedral, which was severely damaged by Nazi bombing during World War II.

In addition, hundreds of Synagogues, Churches and Mosques from over fifty countries pledged to keep their lights on tonight, as a unified symbol of light and hope against the backdrop of rising antisemitism, racism and hatred. Participating Houses of Worship include the Great Choral Synagogue in Kiev and dozens of Ukrainian Synagogues, the Westend Synagogue in Frankfurt (one of the few not destroyed on Kristallnacht), Synagogues in Bahrain and Dubai, and Synagogues and Churches across the United States, UK and Japan, as well as a mosque in New York. https://kristallnacht.motl.org/he/houses-of-worship-institutions/

Prominent individuals who participated by submitting prayers and messages of hope included UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, human rights icon and Chair of the Supervisory Board at Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center Natan Sharansky, Chief Rabbi of Ukraine Yaakov Dov Bleich, MPs from UK and Australia, plus celebrities including Josh Malina.

Photo: – March of the Living and Oren Ben Hakoon

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, That night of glass led to humanity’s darkest moment. Today we unite against antisemitism, racism and intolerance. We will never let the light go out.”

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin commented: While the ovens of the Nazi crematoria have long been extinguished, the flames that consumed Jewish houses of worship, homes and businesses on Kristallnacht burn to this day; flames of hatred and racism. My hope and prayer is that mankind will learn from history.”

“On the 82nd anniversary of Kristallnacht, we remember the night that marked the beginning of the Holocaust.  We vow that the Jewish people will never again be defenceless against the forces that seek our destruction,” added Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu added. 

Israel’s Minister of Defense Benny Gantz said, “Tonight, we are reminded of the insufferable price of hatred, and the destructive power of human evil. And in the face of forces who wish us harm, we stand firm, strong, and secure in our own country, stating clearly: Never Again.”

The President of the International March of the Living, Phyllis Greenberg Heideman told media:  We have no choice but to continue remembering the Holocaust, whatever the circumstances. We cannot stand silent when we see antisemitic attacks occurring and when hatred and intolerance raise their ugly head. The message of this campaign is a message of hope that together we can shine a light towards a brighter future.”

Facebook has also given its support to the Let There Be Light” campaign.

 Its Head of Policy, Israel & the Jewish Diaspora Jordana Cutler stated: “Following a demonstrated rise in antisemitism around the world, we are proud that a campaign such as Let There Be Light is using Facebook to encourage people around the world to stand together against antisemitism, racism, hatred and intolerance.”

Facebook recently strengthened its policies towards antisemitism and Holocaust denial, as part of the company’s efforts to combat such content.

Eve Kugler was seven years old at the time of Kristallnacht in the German town of Halle, where just two years ago the synagogue was attacked.  Eve said: “In the middle of the night five uniformed SS officers and the local police chief, trashed our apartment and led my father out of our home. The synagogue which my grandfather had established was torched and burned to the ground. Two years ago, I was absolutely horrified to hear about the violent antisemitic attack on Halle synagogue. I felt it was an attack on my own synagogue. I say “don’t be a bystander. It is your duty to speak up and act to make the world a better, safer, happier place.”

Dean of Coventry, The Very Reverend John Witcombe :

On this Kristallnacht anniversary, we will be lighting up our Cathedral with messages of hope to remind the world of the catastrophe of turning against one another in hatred.”

The International March of the Living is the largest annual Holocaust education program of its kind in the world. To date, more than 300,000 March of the Living participants, from 150 communities in 52 countries around the world have walked the 3.2 kilometres from Auschwitz to Birkenau on Holocaust Memorial Day.

Cedric Geffen, President of March of the Living Australia, said that he was honoured to promote this initiative to the Australian public and also to raise awareness to it in New Zealand as well, where he was instrumental in establishing March of the Living in 2005.

He told J-Wire: “The response from institutions, organisations, houses of worship and private individuals from across the country was overwhelming and extremely encouraging.

This kind of unifying, inclusive, universal-values-based initiative that encourages remembering and learning from the past in order to ensure a better and brighter present and future for all humanity is at the core of what March of the Living stands for and sees as its mission.

Never Again Means Never Again.”

The Jewish Holocaust Centre in Melbourne and The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies presented Zoom events to mark the occasion.

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