80 Years after Kristallnacht, HGI Center Continues to Shine Light on Antisemitism

Prior to the annual Schweitzer Lecture, students lit candles to remember victims of the recent tragedy in Pittsburgh.

Student lighting candleSince 2011, the Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith (HGI) Education Center has upheld its commitment to understanding and respecting differences and similarities between people of all religions, races, ethnicities and nationalities.

Each year, the Center has held a remembrance of Kristallnacht, literally “the night of broken glass” when nearly 100 Jewish people died in 1938 Nazi Germany. Eighty years later, antisemitism is still visible, evidenced by the shooting of 11 victims at a synagogue in Pittsburgh in late October.

Prior to the College’s annual Schweitzer Lecture on November 8, Mehnaz Afridi, Ph.D., associate professor of religious studies and director of the HGI Center, Rabea Ali ’20 and Ireland Twiggs ’20 led students in Afridi’s Religion and the Holocaust class in a candle lighting ceremony in memory of the 11 victims of the tragedy in Pittsburgh.

“Rhetoric, words, images matter,” Afridi said in response to the Pittsburgh shooting and other acts of antisemitism across the country. “We must be careful how we address one another, how we listen to one another and how we can love one another.”

Following the candle lighting ceremony, Kevin P. Spicer, C.S.C., the James J. Kenneally Distinguished Professor of History at Stonehill College, delivered the Schweitzer Lecture on Christian and racial antisemitism before a capacity crowd in Kelly Commons. Spicer recalled the history of the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the German state under national socialism in the 1920s and 30s.

The Kristallnacht event followed a candlelight vigil held on Tuesday, Oct. 30, three days after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. Organized by Afridi, more than 500 people of all faiths gathered in peace at the Riverdale monument to remember the victims and display their solidarity.

The HGI Center will continue its focus on the history of antisemitism prior to World War II on Thursday, January 24, 2019. The Center will screen the film “All Jews Out,” which traces the story of the German-Jewish Auerbacher family of Goppingen, Germany from 1933 through 1945.

For more information about the Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center, please contact Mehnaz Afridi, Ph.D., at mehnaz.afridi@manhattan.edu or (718) 862-7284.

By Pete McHugh