Faiths and communities come together at Kristallnacht remembrance service

Brandon McNeill receives the Ethel LeFrak Outstanding Student Scholar of the Holocaust award for his research paper “Comparing Horror: The Irreducible Steps of the Nazi Holocaust and ISIS Genocide Against Yazidis.” McNeill is a 2017 SHU graduate with degrees in history and business administration. McNeill was inspired to write his paper after hearing Father Patrick Desbois’ speak at the 2015 Ethel LeFrak Holocaust Education Conference. Photo by C.Arida/Setonian.

The Seton Hill University community and holocaust survivors came together to commemorate “The Night of Broken Glass” with an interfaith remembrance service.

SHU’s National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education held its 30th annual Kristallnacht interfaith remembrance service last night. The service is a commemoration of Kristallnacht, an anti-Jewish riot, which took place Nov. 9-10 in 1938.

Kristallnacht, also known as “The Night of Broken Glass,” receives its name from the shards of shattered glass that lined the streets of Germany following the night that is often unheard of in the remembrance of the Holocaust. German rioters destroyed 267 synagogues and looted nearly 7,000 Jewish-owned businesses, many of which the windows were shattered. The anti-Jewish riots resulted in the arrest of 30,000 Jewish men who were sent to concentration camps, and the death of 91 Jews.

Since the announcement of the Holocaust Center in 1987, SHU has marked the anniversary of Kristallnacht with the interfaith service, consisting of a series of readings each followed by the lighting of a candle until the final candle, the peace candle, is lit. Beginning and following the lighting of the candles, Holocaust survivors shared small glimpses of their survival stories and life since then.

Ruth Drescher, a Jewish child in Germany during the Holocaust, survived Kristallnacht and many other nights, living to tell her story. Drescher was alongside two other childhood survivors, Shulamit Bastacky and Yolanda Willis, who spoke during the remembrance service in St. Joseph’s chapel.

Following Drescher’s reflection, James Paharik, coordinator of genocide and holocaust studies at SHU, presented the 2017 recipients of the Ethel LeFrak Outstanding Student Scholar of the Holocaust Award. Kierhan Boyle and Brandon McNeill, both graduates of SHU, were awarded for their research papers that demonstrated an “advanced understanding of the lessons of the Holocaust.” Abstracts of their papers were published in the November issue of the Setonian, which hit stands Nov. 2 and can also be found online.


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