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Hillel holds remote Kristallnacht anniversary event

Courtesy of Yehuda Wexler
Courtesy of Yehuda Wexler

Baruch College’s chapter of Hillel held a remote event on Nov. 12 to commemorate the 82nd anniversary of Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass.

At the event, students were able to hear the story of Gita Kaufman who escaped Austria as a child as a result of the Holocaust. She is also former schoolteacher and film director.

Her film, “Shadows From My Past” tells the story of letters shared between her family members in Vienna, Austria before most of them were killed by Nazis in the Holocaust.

Kaufman escaped from Austria to New York as a child and told Baruch students about her memories of Kristallnacht.

The Night of Broken Glass, in English, was an anti-Semitic attack in November 1938 by Nazi German citizens on Jewish homes, synagogues and businesses. 91 Jews were murdered and 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps.

Yehuda Wexler, Hillel’s president, spoke to The Ticker about the privilege of hearing first-hand from a Holocaust survivor.

“It was a real privilege to listen to one of the few Holocaust survivors still alive. In recent years, and specifically as a result of our current pandemic, the number of survivors has been dwindling. Even as this happens, the claims of people who wish to deny or downplay the Holocaust are getting louder and more vicious,” Wexler said.

Wexler commended Kaufman’s bravery to tell her story for the anniversary of Kristallnacht.

“Mrs. Kaufman was brave enough to speak not only with our students, but also in the making of her documentary, ‘Shadows from my Past,’ which details her experience throughout the Holocaust,” Wexler said.

Wexler also spoke on the importance that students learn about the Holocaust and be more aware of anti-Semitism today.

“It is necessary now, more than ever, to proliferate this information and her personal story, as hate crimes against Jews continue to rise. The most recent FBI report has over 60% of religion-based hate crimes being committed against Jews, an upwards trend which has been accelerating over the years,” he said.

Students can watch the event recording on Hillel’s Facebook page.

Editor’s Note: Hillel President Yehuda Wexler, who was quoted in this article, is a former Ticker news writer.

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