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Tucson J, partners to mark Kristallnacht anniversary

“Kristallnacht: Shattered, Yet Unbroken” mandala by Robert Wertz

Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, refers to the windows broken at  synagogues, homes, and Jewish-owned businesses that were plundered and destroyed during a wave of violent anti-Jewish pogroms on Nov. 9 and 10, 1938 throughout Germany, Austria, and the Czech Sudetenland. The event is commonly thought to be a turning point in Nazi Germany’s persecution of the Jews and other minorities. As Jews worldwide mark the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Tucson J in partnership with other local organizations and individuals will present opportunities to reflect on Kristallnacht and to celebrate the Jewish community’s resilience and the many small acts of heroism that have helped sustain us.

On Friday, Nov. 9, Congregations Or Chadash, Chaverim, and Bet Shalom will hold a Shabbat program in partnership with the Tucson J.  The evening will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the J with a pre-oneg and Shabbat candle lighting, followed by a choice of Shabbat services. A communal dinner will begin shortly after 7 p.m. Registration for the dinner is required by Friday, Nov. 2 at 299-3000 or

On Sunday, Nov. 11, the J will host an afternoon of Kristallnacht programs, including the formal opening of the “New Works from Broken Glass” exhibit, which will be on display Nov. 2-Dec. 9 in the Fine Art Gallery.

From 1:30-4:30 p.m., participants can meet the “New Works” artists in the Fine Art Gallery and walk through the “Kristallnacht: Shattered, Yet Unbroken” mandala presented by Robert Wertz in the J’s  ballroom.

One of the pieces on display in the gallery will be a large-scale mural featuring glass Stars of David fused with the signatures and countries of birth of Holocaust survivors living in Southern Arizona. Tucson’s Holocaust survivor community will create this piece as part of a collaboration with the Sonoran Glass School and Jewish Family and Children’s Services. The mural will be on permanent display at JFCS.

A reflective wall featuring mirror frames made at Sonoran Glass School workshops also will be part of the gallery display (see the Community Calendar on page 28 for workshops to make a mirror frame or a challah plate from broken glass), along with Kristallnacht-themed poetry. Local artists also will exhibit their works.

At 1:30 p.m. at the J, Lynn Rae Lowe will present “The Art of Immigration,” a slideshow and discussion of how anti-Semitism has impacted the immigration of art from Eastern Europe to Paris to New York.

The Adult Jewish Community Choir, led by Cantor Janece Cohen, will perform at 2 p.m. at the J.

At 2:30 p.m. at the J, Holocaust survivors living in Southern Arizona, who meet under the auspices of Jewish Family & Children’s Services, will tell portions of their stories.

The J’s final event of the afternoon will be a reading of “Under the Midwestern Stars” by local playwright Esther Blumenfeld. The play tells the story of Jewish immigrants building a new life in the heartland of America. The reading will be the first performance of the Jewish Community Theater of Tucson. Doors will open at 3 p.m. and the reading will begin at 3:15 p.m.

For other Kristallnacht anniversary events, visit