German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier asked the Chief Rabbi of Germany, Rabbi Teichtel, what Germany can do on the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht. Kristallnacht is German for “the night of broken glass.” It is the night that the Nazis gave permission for people to rampage the streets of German cities and towns and destroy Synagogues, Jewish owned stores and burn Jewish books. It was the beginning of the massive Nazi Germany state-sanctioned persecution of the Jewish people. Until then, there were no massive state-sponsored riots in Germany.
Light Up the Darkness
Rabbi Teichtel answered that the best German response to the hatred and evil of the Nazis 80 years ago would be to light the biggest Chanukah Menorah in all of Europe at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. It is the very place that Hitler called for the destruction of the Jewish people. Hitler would be rolling in his grave if he saw this unbelievable display of Jewish celebration at the exact place he announced his plan to annihilate our people.
Lighting the Menorah
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier lit the first candle that is then used to light the other candles on the Menorah. Rabbi Teichtel then led the ceremony for the lighting of the other candles on the 10-meter menorah in the center of Berlin last week. Chanukah is the eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights. Jews around the world celebrate the miraculous victory over the Syrian-Greek Empire that occupied our land. The Greeks defiled our Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and tried to eradicate the Jewish religion. The little band of Maccabees succeeded in leading a rebellion against the Green-Syrian Empire. The Maccabees defeated the Syrian-Greeks, liberated Jerusalem and the Temple and re-dedicated the Temple. This took place 2,200 years ago!
Then and Now
Just as the Jewish people triumphed over the Greek-Syrians, so we also survived the evil Nazis. The lights of the Menorah symbolize the triumph of light over darkness and of the Jewish people over all those who try to destroy us.
The Famous Chanukah Picture in Nazi Germany
The following picture is well known and goes viral on social media every year. Until now, the story behind the picture was unknown.
The picture was taken in 1931 by the wife of Rabbi Akiva Boruch Posner, the Rabbi of a synagogue in Kiel, Germany. Right across from their house was the Nazi headquarters of the town. Before Shabbat the Rabbi and his wife lit the Chanukah candles and the Rabbi’s wife took this picture. Somehow she knew how powerful it was. On the back of the printed picture she wrote a few lines in German “Chanukah, 5692. ‘Judea dies’, thus says the banner. ‘Judea will live forever’, thus respond the lights.”
The Rabbi’s wife knew that while the Nazis wanted to destroy the Jewish people, the Chanukah lights are the symbol of our eternal survival, against all odds, in every generation.
Time to Leave
The Rabbi of Kiel understood that the growth of the Nazi party in Germany meant that the Jews of Germany were in grave trouble. He told his congregants to leave Germany. Kiel had a modest community of 500 Jews. The Rabbi and his wife moved to Israel in 1933 and pleaded with his congregants to follow and leave Germany. He succeeded in relaying his message. Only 8 Jews from Kiel were murdered in the Holocaust, all the rest fled beforehand.
Yehudah Mansbuch, the grandson of the family who took the photo, remembers:
“It was on a Friday afternoon right before Shabbat that this photo was taken. My grandmother realized that this was a historic photo, and she wrote on the back of the photo that ‘their flag wishes to see the death of Judah, but Judah will always survive, and our light will outlast their flag.’ My grandfather, the rabbi of the Kiel community, was making many speeches, both to Jews and Germans. To the Germans he warned that the road they were embarking on was not good for Jews or Germans, and to the Jews he warned that something terrible was brewing, and they would do well to leave Germany. My grandfather fled Germany in 1933, and moved to Israel. His community came to the train station to see him off, and before departed he urged his people to flee Germany while there’s still time.”
Chanukah, Judea & Samaria
Did you know that the story of Chanukah took place in Judea & Samaria? Check out the following graphic. Anyone who says that Jews are occupiers of Judea, Samaria or anywhere in Israel, are ignorant of historical facts.