SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Congregation Beth Israel in Scotch Plains will commemorate the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht on Friday, Nov. 16, at 7:30 p.m. This night of remembrance will feature a presentation by Miriam Gershwin, who will share her personal experiences as a Holocaust survivor and answer questions from attendees.  The program, which will take place during Congregation Beth Israel’s Friday night Shabbat services, is free and open to the community and is suitable for children. An Oneg Shabbat dessert reception will follow.

Kristallnacht, which translates as “crystal night” in German, is also called the "Night of Broken Glass." Kristallnacht refers to the violent attacks that the Nazis waged against Jews on November 9 and 10, 1938 throughout Germany, Austria, and parts of occupied Czechoslovakia. The name Kristallnacht comes from the broken glass that littered the streets after Jewish homes, schools, synagogues, and stores were damaged and destroyed. With Jews beaten, killed and sent to concentration camps, Kristallnacht is often seen as the beginning of the Holocaust.

For guest speaker Miriam Gershwin, Kristallnacht changed her life forever; she had to leave school and additional restrictions were imposed on her and her family. Miriam was born in Memel. She was only a teenager when her family was forced to move to the Kovno Ghetto. From there, she was taken to the Stutthof Concentration Camp, a Nazi concentration camp in Poland. Miriam was fortunate to survive and eventually emigrate to the United States. She ultimately raised her family in Springfield, NJ.

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The memorial program is sponsored by the synagogue’s Second/Third Generation Holocaust Survivors Group.  This support group, which was created at Congregation Beth Israel, also includes participants from area synagogues. The group plans events, such as the Kristallnacht Remembrance, to educate the public about the Holocaust and to honor and remember those who suffered and perished.

“We realized that many of us in the area grew up with parents or grandparents who survived the Holocaust, so we decided to form a community to learn even more about this dark time in our history,” said Faye Bodenstein, daughter of Miriam Gershwin and co-founder of the Second/Third Generation Holocaust Survivors Group. “We feel it is important to share the stories of our families to keep memories alive, and it is our responsibility to educate future generations about the Holocaust.”

For additional information about the program, contact Faye Bodenstein (frgbnj@aol.com), Claire Bornstein (clairebn@comcast.net) or Rita Geller (rmgeller@comcast.net), or call the synagogue office at (980) 889-1830.

Congregation Beth Israel is located at 18 Shalom Way, Scotch Plains, NJ  (corner of Martine Avenue).