In this week’s parashah, Toledot, we see an endless portrayal of sibling rivalry between Jacob and Esau. This rivalry ends in trickery, Jacob getting his way several times while reversing the order of the way things might have otherwise been. He receives the blessing from his dying father meant for his brother, and in what I think is one of the most heartwrenching episodes of this book of the Torah, Esau cries out to his father Isaac pleading to receive a blessing as well. Esau feels abandoned, and while his behavior in the past hasn’t always been exemplary (especially in great anger toward Jacob), it isn’t apparent that he has outright done anything against his parents, making him undeserving of their love and blessing.
In times of great suffering, we often look to our sacred texts for answers, for we wish to see how those who came before us handled great challenge. Next week, we will commemorate the 72nd anniversary of Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), the rampant and violent destruction of Jewish homes, synagogues, and businesses throughout Germany and Austria on November 9 and 10, 1938. This was a time period of great questioning and little answers–a time marked by feelings of abandonment, yet always an underlying hope. Kristallnacht was just one of an incalculable number of atrocities that overcame our communities during the Holocaust. However, it is significant in history for it represented a great escalation of the anti-semetic fervor and began the awful episode which would continue in ghettos, concentration, and death camps through 1945.
Next Wednesday, November 10th, at noon, I will be leading an hour long lunch and learn session on musical responses to Kristallnacht– looking at how music and memory combine, an indelible theme amongst all Holocaust music. We will see how music and lyrics changed to adapt to the mood of their surroundings. We will listen to and sing some of these songs, and have a discussion to greater understand these reflections.
Then, in the evening, at 6 pm (until approximately 6:30), please join in a Kristallnacht Commemoration Service, where we will pay our respect to those who sacrificed their livelihood and others who sacrificed their lives in a time of great turmoil.