Naples | Catholics and Jews assembled Nov. 4 in Naples joined in unity to stand up against the anti-Semitism that exists today while also remembering the past horrors of the Holocaust.
The Catholic-Jewish Dialogue of Collier County hosted its annual “Kristallnacht: The Night of Broken Glass” commemoration at Temple Shalom in Naples. This gathering took place just eight days following the horrific murder of 11 Jews at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Kristallnacht marked the 80th anniversary of the night during which the Nazi regime in Germany and Austria changed its policies toward the Jewish community from legal discrimination and random violence to systematic state terror.
Jewish and Catholic leaders alike spoke out against the horror of what took place on Kristallnacht and in the Holocaust. Further, the recent tragedy in Pittsburgh serves as a stark reminder that one can never let their guard down in defense against hate in the world.
Event host, Rabbi Adam Miller of Temple Shalom, spoke of how the Catholic-Jewish Dialogue of Collier County brings together two faith communities to stand as one voice against hate. Rabbi Miller read the names of the 11 who were killed in Pittsburgh which was followed by a moment of silence.
“We are not indifferent to evil in our community, we are here to be defiant of evil,” Rabbi Miller said. “We stand together as one so none of us will stand idly by as the blood of our neighbors is shed.”
Bishop Frank J. Dewane expressed his condolences and sorrow for the act of violence and anti-Semitism that took place in Pittsburgh and said that the Diocese of Venice is committed to continue to work to eradicate this evil that exists in the world.
“We can never forget what happened,” Bishop Dewane said of the horrific shooting in Pittsburgh or the events of Kristallnacht and the Holocaust. “We need to remember those faces, their tears, their desperation. … It has to be burned within our memories.”
The Bishop said Pope Francis remarked on the shooting in Pittsburgh, saying that he stands in unity with the Jewish community and that “we are all in truth wounded by this inhumane act of violence.”
The keynote speaker was Cesare Frustaci, a Holocaust survivor who recounted his harrowing story of being left alone in Budapest, Hungary, to fend for himself when he was separated from his mother.
“Yes, there was a Holocaust. Everything I saw has been documented,” Frustaci said. He is angry when people say the Holocaust never happened and speaks publicly to refute any such claims.
“I wish now to pass the torch as I will not live 200 years; I want to pass the story on to younger generations, so that if someone tells them that the Holocaust never existed, they can say, ‘No. I heard the story from someone who was there,’” Frustaci said.
Kristallnacht took place on the night of Nov. 9-10, 1938, when Nazi government-sponsored anti-Jewish riots took place. The results included the murder of 91. An estimated 25,000 men and boys arrested and sent to concentration camps. Some 1,000 synagogues were set on fire, and 7,000 Jewish businesses were vandalized. And 1 billion German marks were levied as a fine, not on the criminals, but upon the victims — the Jewish Community. The name “Kristallnacht” comes from the broken glass left on the streets following the destruction of synagogues and Jewish businesses.
Kristallnacht is regarded as the informal beginning of the Holocaust and the “Final Solution” which lead to the murder of 6 million Jews, including men, women and more than one and a half million children.
The commemoration was co-sponsored by the Diocese of Venice and Jewish Federation of Greater Naples.