The National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education (NCCHE) and the Office of Campus Ministry at Seton Hill University will hold the annual Kristallnacht Remembrance Interfaith Service on Tuesday, November 6, at 6 p.m. The service, which is open to the public, will be held in Seton Hill University’s Saint Joseph Chapel, located in the Administration Building on the University’s hilltop campus in Greensburg, Pa.
This year’s service will remember Kristallnacht as the 80th anniversary of the event nears. On November 9 and 10, 1938, the Nazis burned synagogues, looted Jewish homes and businesses and murdered individuals throughout Germany, Austria and other Nazi-controlled areas in a pogrom known as Kristallnacht, “the night of broken glass.” The allusion is to the broken glass that littered the ground from the shattered windows of Jewish-owned businesses. This state inspired and sanctioned night of violence resulted in the deaths of 91 Jews, the looting of 7,000 Jewish businesses, the arrest of 30,000 Jewish males and the desecration or destruction of 267 synagogues.
“The recent massacre at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh – the deadliest attack on a Jewish community in American history – shows that antisemitism and events such as Kristallnacht are not simply items relegated to our history books but are relevant to our world today,” said Tim Crain, Director of the National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education. “By commemorating the Kristallnacht, we hope to educate about the dangers of intolerance in the past and open the hearts and minds of people in order to prevent these kinds of atrocities from ever happening again.”
This year’s interfaith service will feature a speech by Holocaust Survivor Ruth Drescher of Pittsburgh. Mrs. Drescher survived Kristallnacht as a child growing up in Germany. In addition, Hidden Child Holocaust Survivor Shulamit Bastacky, of Pittsburgh, will offer testimony about her experience.
Seton Hill University formally announced the establishment of its National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education in November 1987 by commemorating Kristallnacht. For each year since, the University has marked the anniversary with an interfaith service where students gather with Holocaust survivors and remember with word, music, and reflection.
The National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education (NCCHE) was established on the campus of Seton Hill University in 1987. Seton Hill initiated this national Catholic movement toward Holocaust studies in response to the urging of Pope John Paul II to recognize the significance of the Shoah, the Holocaust, and to “promote the necessary historical and religious studies on this event which concerns the whole of humanity today.” The NCCHE has as its primary purpose the broad dissemination of scholarship on the root causes of antisemitism, its relation to the Holocaust and the implications from the Catholic perspective of both for today's world. Toward this end the Center is committed to equipping scholars, especially those at Catholic institutions, to enter into serious discussion on the causes of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust; shaping appropriate curricular responses at Catholic institutions and other educational sites; sustaining Seton Hill's Catholic Institute for Holocaust Studies in Israel through a cooperative program with Yad Vashem; encouraging scholarship and research through conferences, publications, workshops for educators, and similar activities; sponsoring local events on the Holocaust and related topics in the University and the community and enhancing Catholic-Jewish relations.