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It’s no secret that I enjoy stories. I enjoy both listening and telling stories. Stories are vital in making connections and making community. As we approach November 9 and the 84th remembrance of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, let me tell you a story.

My fascination with Jewish-Christian relations began when I was a student in Mrs. Whitaker’s fifth-grade class at R.C. Waters Elementary School. That year we had a student teacher (whose name escapes my memory) who introduced us to the idea of pen pals. For several months we wrote letters to a fifth-grade class in Encino, California. The students to whom we wrote were students at a Jewish School. We wrote letters back and forth until an earthquake devastated their community. That was the last time I heard from my penpal, Ilana…

It was with 5th-grade curiosity and wonder that I learned about Hanukkah and dreidels and watched my first scenes of Fiddler on the Roof. The latter appeared as a gift later that year, two VHS tapes that were played over and over again. It was in fifth grade that I learned a bit about Jewish culture. It wasn’t until much later that I learned a bit about the faith of Judaism and the faithfulness of its people.

In something like, 20th grade, I began to study the complicated history of Jewish-Christian relations beginning with a course of the same name at Trinity. Through this (all too short) intensive course I learned that I still have much to learn. The course focussed on the history of Israel. My classmates and I visited synagogues and traveled to Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati and the National Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC. We met with leaders of Jewish Columbus, Churches for Middle East Peace, Peace Not Walls (our ELCA Advocacy Group), and many more.

We also discussed the unsavory works of Martin Luther about the Jewish people of his time. We lamented the comp-licitness of the German Lutheran Church at the time of the Holocaust. We knew we were way in over our heads. We were discussing people we did not know, places many of us had never been to, and situations we could only imagine.

On November 9, 2022 at 7:00 pm we will gather in three locations around the city to listen, to tell, and to learn alongside our partners from Jewish Columbus. While the number of those who can tell first-hand accounts of the Holocaust is dwindling, their stories live on. As we remember and lament the brokenness that changed the world let us commit to healing and change. Let us commit to a new future, one we create together, one story at a time.

Register for Kristallnacht here:

The Rev. Mary Ann Siefke
Director of Congregational Engagement & Advancement