The event marks Kristallnacht or the Night of Broken Glass of November 9-10 1938 when Jewish homes and businesses were targeted in a wave of Nazi anti-Semitism.
A large gathering of members of Adelaide’s Jewish and Christian communities attended the moving event in St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral on November 9.
After three minutes of silence and the lighting of memorial candles, testimonials of victims of the Holocaust were read in between psalms of lament. Each participant was given a candle which was lit by young people at the end of the service.
Holocaust survivor Andrew Steiner described the ceremony as a symbol of the power of light over darkness.
“Even one candle can break the darkness,” he said.
“There are no separate religions, we are all together…the immense support we have received from the Catholic congregation is overwhelming, and such a privilege.
“I feel really humbled by so many people – Jewish and non-Jewish – making a wonderful statement of solidarity.”
In her reflection on a passage of the Book of Lamentations, Rabbi Shoshana Kaminsky said the “desolation” echoes “right at this moment for us”.
“We see the people of Gaza, surrounded by ruined buildings and grieving incomprehensible losses,” she said.
“We Jews mourn deeply for them and for how they have placed in harm’s way by Hamas, the very people who were charged with keeping them safe.
“Even more evocatively, we see the victims of the October 7 massacre mirrored in those scenes of bitter grieving from our ancient past. The ruined buildings of ancient Jerusalem reflect the burnt-out homes torched by Hamas terrorists. The cries of women and children echo those mothers whose children are still being held hostage in Gaza.
“It has occurred to me recently that what we are living through right at this moment is the Shoah in reverse: first, on October 7, came the mass murders of Jews for no other reason that they were Jewish and living in Israel.
“And after the murders, we have seen and experienced an intensity of anti-Semitism that is unprecedented and utterly terrifying. We are painfully aware that the Israelis who were slain, apparently including 40 babies, were responsible for their deaths simply because they lived in Israel.
“A horrifying large number of people have even celebrated the murders as just desserts…the world’s only Jewish state is currently the target of enormous demonstrations around the world—demonstrations that we didn’t see when Russia invaded Ukraine or when the Syrian government was methodically killing hundreds of thousands of its own citizens. Once again, we are the people the world loves to hate.”
Rabbi Kaminsky urged non-Jews at the service to stand with the Jewish community and help keep it safe in “this country we call home”.
“The events that led to the Shoah unfolding in all its horror are repeating themselves right now, even here in peaceful Adelaide. A terrifying, ancient hatred is rising around the world, and we cannot fight it by ourselves,” she said.
“If you have ever vowed in your heart that you would stand up against the possibility of another Shoah, now is the time for you to fulfill that vow.
“We Jews have saying around the events of the Shoah: ‘never again’! By those words, we mean that we have an obligation to prevent the targeting of any group anywhere in the world because of who they are. At this moment, we are the targets. We say ‘never again’, but it is up to you, our allies, to make sure that the words of that vow are fulfilled.
“May we all continue to work for a world where all may live in peace, where the lion may truly lie down with the lamb, and all are free to grow into their very best selves.”