Before the Fires: A Tribute to German-Jewish Musical Culture on the 75th Anniversary of Kristallnacht - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
Skip to main content

Before the Fires: A Tribute to German-Jewish Musical Culture on the 75th Anniversary of Kristallnacht

Main Content
Sunday, November 10, 2013

The JCC of Manhattan

334 Amsterdam Ave

New York, NY 10023

On November 9–10, 1938, the Nazis staged state-sanctioned violent pogroms and anti-Jewish riot against the Jewish communities of Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland. These events came to be known as Kristallnacht (commonly translated as “Night of Broken Glass”), a reference to the broken windows of synagogues, Jewish-owned stores, community centers, and homes plundered and destroyed that night. Instigated by the Nazi regime, rioters burned or destroyed 267 synagogues, vandalized or looted 7,500 Jewish businesses, and killed at least 91 Jewish people. They also damaged many Jewish cemeteries, hospitals, schools, and homes as police and fire brigades looked on. Kristallnacht was a turning point in Nazi anti-Jewish policy that would culminate in the Holocaust.

The JCC of Manhattan marks these days of unfathomable destruction by presenting a concert celebrating the glorious musical heritage of the German synagogue and classical lieder that was so intrinsically connected to German culture in 1938. Cantor Julia Katz (Central Synagogue), Cantor Ayelet Piatigorsky (West End Synagogue), Cantor Daniel Singer (Stephen Wise Synagogue), student cantor Ben Ellerin (Congregation Rodeph Shalom and Park Avenue Synagogue), the Congregation Beit Simchat Torah Community Chorus, and Joyce Rosenzweig, pianist and conductor will present an afternoon of music by Lewandowski, Kirschner, Sulzer, Kornitzer, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Strauss, Schoenberg, etc., and will feature the United States premieres of several German-Jewish songs written in Germany in the 1920’s.

We commemorate this unspeakable time in our history by keeping alive the magnificent music that inspired the German people in 1938, and continues to be an inspiration to us today.