November 12, 2014

Kristallnacht, or "Night of Broken Glass"


 German bystanders viewing smashed windows
Kristallnacht, November 9–10, 1938

November 9−10, 2014, marks the 76th Anniversary of Kristallnacht, the beginning of Hitler's Final Solution — the systematic slaughter of six million Jews and millions of other innocent victims. Kristallnacht in German means the “night of broken glass” or crystal (Kristall) nacht (night).

On November 9–10, 1938, Nazi stormtroopers and non-Jewish civilians launched pogroms around Germany and parts of Austria— state-sanctioned organized anti-Jewish persecution and riots. During the two-day attack, 91 Jews were beaten to death, and about 30,000 were arrested and sent to concentration camps. The plundering and destroying of thousands of synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses, community centers, schools, hospitals, and homes shattered windows, carpeting the grounds with broken glass. Hence, the euphemism, “night of broken glass” or "crystal night," Kristallnacht.

Poet, professor, and diarist Karen Alkalay-Gut's parents caught the last bus out of Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland) the night Hitler invaded Poland on August 31, 1939. She dedicates Night Travel to them.

Night Travel
for my parents

On that night in Danzig the trains did not run
You sat in the bus station till almost dawn
knowing that if you could not get out,
the invaders would find you, grind you among the first
under their heels.

Toward morning an announcement came of a bus,
and without knowing where it would go
you raced to the stop.
But the Nazis were there first, and you watched
as they finished their search -
checking each traveler for papers,
jewelry, a Jewish nose.

Among the passengers you recognized
a familiar face - a German woman - sitting
with someone else you'd seen
in the neighborhood.
They winked a greeting,
waited for the soldiers to leave,
and jumped out -
pushing you up in their place.

Thus you escaped to Berlin, remaining alive
by keeping silent through the long train ride
from Berlin to Cologne in a car filled with
staring German soldiers -

And arrived the next day in Holland,
black with fear and transportation.

— from Ignorant Armies by Karen Alkalay-Gut
Merrick, N.Y: Cross-Cultural Communications, 1994

October 23, 2014

In Tel Aviv: At my friends' wedding, both grooms are Orthodox Jews


Mazal tov to Oz Vadee and Aron Bilek — adored and adorable, loved and loving newlyweds. Tonight in Tel Aviv, they exchanged rings and Tallitot/prayer shawls, and smashed underfoot two glasses — a custom that in our joy, we remember to help repair brokenness in the world. 

Blessings traditional and groundbreaking were offered as the couple's happiness radiated among hundreds of cheering and clapping exuberant family and friends at the elegant East Tel Aviv venue. In the photo, Member of Parliament Ruth Calderon reads aloud the Ketuba/marriage certificate, the couple's innovative retooling of the ancient document, here attesting to the marriage of two Orthodox Jewish men according to "Am Yisrael/the Jewish people!"

October 07, 2014

Ceremony recognizes new IDF Intelligence Officers, (sweet cousin) Ohad Zohar among them

At the ceremony recognizing new IDF Intelligence Officers,
the woman leading the marching band holds high her baton.

Mazal tov, cousin Ohad Zohar on completing the IDF Military Intelligence Officer's Course! Proud of you and privileged to attend the graduation ceremony at the Glilot military base.

While you got a stripe today, I wore stripes!


At the IDF induction ceremony exactly two years ago at the Tzrifin military base, I wore my floppy lavender hat under the blazing sun.


May you continue to go from strength to strength!

Related post (includes links to three more)

September 16, 2014

Let the [Jewish] New Year and its blessings start | תָּחֵל שָׁנָה וּבִרְכוֹתֶיהָ

Honey in Jerusalem's Machane Yehuda open-air shuk,
adding sweetness for the New Year
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, falls on Tishrei 1 and 2 in the Hebrew calendar. In 2014, it begins Wednesday evening, September 24, and concludes Friday evening, September 26.

Dear Tamar, 

Let the [Jewish] New Year and its blessings start | תָּחֵל שָׁנָה וּבִרְכוֹתֶיהָ | Takhel shana u-virkhote-ha*. The word Shana in Hebrew comes from the word li-shnot (to repeat) but it also sounds like le-shanot (to change). I think that's the main idea every Rosh Hashanah: it's our chance either to repeat our mistakes or to change, and to keep the good or let it go. I hope your New Year will be filled with good choices. 
Shana Tova 5768

* From אָחוֹת קְטַנָּה | Akhot Ktana | Little Sister. In this 13th century piyyut (Jewish liturgical poem) by Abraham Hazzan of Gerona (Girondi), Spain, each verse ends with a one-line chorus: Let the year end with all its curses | תִּכְלֶה שָׁנָה וְקִלְלוֹתֶיהָ | Tikhleh shana ve-killeloteha! The last line concludes: Let the new year and its blessings start | תָּחֵל שָׁנָה וּבִרְכוֹתֶיהָ | Takhel shana u-virkhote-ha!

I first published this post September 12, 2007.

Related posts

August 06, 2014

From southern Israel to Tel Aviv: green and fresh straight from the field


"Thank you very much for your support in these times. We'll be happy to supply you with our organic vegetables straight from the field in better days as well. — Meshek Damari" [an organic farm in southern Israel about a mile north of Gaza]

Meshek Damari, neighboring Kibbutz Zikim, and the region experienced steady rocket attacks the past month endangering lives and hurting businesses. The farmers are thinking out of the box and expanding their market to the country's center. Tel Aviv residents responded to their FB message, buying fresh produce delivered straight to the door.

One of two boxes Dudu delivered to me last night;
one for me and one for Yehudit my neighbor