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Light Amidst the Darkness

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Rabbi Boris, November/December 2014

After a busy month of holidays, we head into the month of Cheshvan, making our way through the ever-darkening days of fall and winter. This month is commonly called Mar Cheshvan, the “bitter month,” because it is the only month with no holy days or special occasions that occur. While a time of physical darkness, it is not necessarily a time of spiritual darkness, as it is also a time to gather in the experiences, teachings and inspiration from the High Holy days and try our best to hold onto their light.

Nevertheless, there is one event that we remember every year in early November, a tragic day which began one of the the most painful parts of our recent history. On November 9th and 10th, 1938, 76 years ago, Kristallnacht, the “night of broken glass,” took place. The days took a horrible toll on the German Jewish community; over 260 synagogues were destroyed and thousands of Jewish businesses were damaged by the Nazis and German civilians. The aftermath of this terrible day led to the Holocaust, and the eventual murder of over 6 million Jews and countless other innocent people.

Today we live in a world that is much safer for the Jewish people, but like those horrible days in 1938, there are still places in Europe and the Middle East where calls of “death to the Jews” are all too common, and ever-dwindling Jewish communities are being threatened with destruction. We can’t forget events such as Kristallnacht, but it is in how we remember events such as these, how we bring light into the darkness, that the Jewish future will be determined.

While the greatest tree needs darkness to sprout, it can only survive on light. With the memory of Kristallnacht, we can reflect on who we are as a Jewish community, and stand with those Jews who continue to experience hatred and are not allowed to freely practice their faith. With time in these months to reflect, hopefully we will see that our lives, and the Jewish future are filled with a light, a light that can grow even from the greatest darkness.

Here in Eugene, we will have an opportunity to reflect on the story of the Holocaust and its meaning for our time, with a presentation in support of “Unspeakable,” an animated documentary portraying the journey of Holocaust survivors, November 9th at First Christian Church. More information can be found at

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