Remember. Witness. Intervene. These are the words that were reiterated throughout The Colonial Theatre at this year’s Kristallnacht Commemoration.
Author of “Roses in a Forbidden Garden: A Holocaust Love Story,” Elise Garibaldi spoke during the event.
Against all odds, Garibaldi’s grandparents fell in love when they met in a concentration camp.
Garibaldi recounted one of her favorite stories of them.
“[Her grandfather] risked his and his friend’s lives just to steal a marigold flower from the Nazi’s garden to give to [her grandmother] as a token of his love.”
Along with the book, Garibaldi also wrote a rock opera for the story of her grandparents.
One of the pieces, titled, “Soon I’ll be There,” was performed.
The choreography was done by MoCo Arts dancers, and the music was done by Keene Middle School students.
The dance was a metaphor for the heartbreaking separation of her grandparents.
The main dancer, who was meant to embody her young grandmother, was wearing the actual Star of David emblem that her grandmother wore during the Holocaust.
The star has been donated to the Cohen Center on behalf of her grandmother.
This annual event honors the memory of those lost in the Holocaust.
The commemoration included speeches from city officials, The Colonial Theatre and the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies representatives, as well as Holocaust and genocide studies majors.
There was also a candle lighting for memory and hope and a performance put on by the MoCo Arts Center.
The event began with old black and white photographs of Jewish children during the Holocaust partaking in normal everyday activities like riding bikes and playing outside.
Also shown was video footage of the “Breaking of the Glass” in 1938; “Kristallnacht” means Night of Broken Glass.
This was when synagogues throughout Germany were burned down as acts of hate, and nothing was done by the authority officials to stop the actions.
The theatre fell quiet during the showing of the video.
After the lighting of the ceremonial candles, the entire audience recited Ey-l Malei Rachamim together, a Jewish prayer that honors the souls of the deceased.
The Coordinator of Educational Outreach for the Cohen Center Tom White said, “We resist fear and hate. We support the targets and the victims. We welcome dreamers. We educate ourselves and choose to stay engaged and hopeful.”
An audience member and KSC alumnus George McKenney attended the event with his spouse and talked about the importance of this commemoration, “We are educators, we influence the future. To do that well, we need to be very mindful of the present and the past. Things don’t stop. Bad things can get worse if we don’t remember the past and pay attention to its patterns.”
White had a similar message regarding not repeating the past.
“Denial and accommodation are human methods of coping or enabling evil to grow and flourish. This event makes certain that our community takes a pause each year to challenge ourselves not to look away.”
The recent acts of white supremacy and anti-semitism were noted during the night’s speeches.
KSC Global Fellow from Sarajevo, Bosnia, Hikmet Karčić, said, “There is still too much hate in this world. There have been 1,266 acts of anti-semitic hate in the U.S. this year, and anti-semitic acts have risen 86 percent just in the first few months of 2017.”
KSC Associate Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Dottie Morris helped close the commemoration with a hopeful message.
“In this region, we accept all people regardless of religion, race, sexuality or any identity. Look forward with calmness and reason. May our commitment to the light of Keene light our way forward for all.”
Rachel Vitello can be contacted at email@example.com