This week marks the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, “the night of broken glass,”
which took place in Germany on November 9, 1938, and many consider the beginning of the Holocaust. Throughout Germany and the newly acquired territories of Austria and Sudetenland, Jews were attacked in the street, in their homes and at their places of work and worship. At least 96 Jews were killed and hundreds more injured, more than 1,000 synagogues were burned (and possibly as many as 2,000), almost 7,500 Jewish businesses were destroyed, cemeteries and schools were vandalized, and 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Source: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/background-and-overview-of-kristallnacht] We must take note of this very sad, yet very significant event that led to the murder of six million Jews.
Although we are still reeling from the attack at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and recent incidents of synagogues being defaced by anti-Semitic graffiti, Jews living in The United States of America have never experienced organized, government-sponsored anti-Semitism. Although anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise, for us and for generations past, America has been a place where Jews and Jewish life have thrived. That legacy, rather than one of hatred and bigotry, is what we must work hard for in order to pass on to the generations to come.
Toldot, the title of this week’s Torah portion, literally means “generations.” Through Isaac and Rebecca, and their sons Jacob and Esau, we learn how hatred, dishonesty and bigotry can ruin a family; how much more so then can they ruin a nation. Toldot also teaches of the need to pass blessing from one generation to the next. May our legacy to those who come after us be one of blessing rather than hate.
Rabbi Sandra M. Bellush