From Commemoration to Celebration

Wednesday Night, November 10 – COMMEMORATION 

Kristallnach (Night of Broken Glass – when the Nazis and their followers burned synagogues and caused other destruction to Jewish property on November 9, 1938) is observed in Hoya on the 10th, as it was a day later that a band of roving Nazi bullies destroyed our little synagogue. Each year, the good people of Hoya commemorate this sad event, even though no Jews live in the town. 

This year was no different, except that Nathaniel & I were present. A klezmer musician softly played soul-stirring Jewish music on his accordion. Candles were lighted by students to represent the Jewish families of Hoya that are no more.

Readings by town officials, community members, and students, were meaningful. I, too, was given the opportunity to speak, and did so, mentioning several of the people who play a significant part in this annual observance.

The commemoration takes place close to where our synagogue once stood, alongside the synagogue memorial - a triangular strip of land which proclaims – “You Are Standing on Jewish Ground.” The steady drizzle and cold added to the somber mood of the proceedings

Thursday, November 11 – CELEBRATION We were up bright and early Thursday morning, as the mood turned joyous and uplifting for the naming ceremony of Hoya’s new high school. Dignitaries, public officials, townspeople, and students, were already gathered in the school’s auditorium when we arrived. 

Landrat Heinrich Eggers, Regierungsschuldirektrin Frau Ursula Reimers, and the Burgomeister of Hoya, were all in attendance, and spoke.

From Holland came three special guests to honor me, and were in Hoya the night before for the Kristallnach Observance. Gerton von Boom, publisher of my memoir in Dutch (Vier gelijke stenen ), and his college student daughter, Lizette, came from Amsterdam. Tjalka Notermans, from a different area of Holland, brought with him as a gift to the school a sack of 365 tulip bulbs which will carry purple blooms. Tjalka eloquently explained in his short talk that the color purple in Greek mythology denotes dignity, while the number 365 signifies the 365 days in a year, 

I was placed front-row center, while Nathaniel stayed a ways back in order to video the proceedings with his new Kodak Play-Touch video camera, The ceremony was also videoed by the school, and there were representatives from a number of newspapers, who snapped away with their cameras, and whose articles made it into the newspapers’ the next day.

The ceremony began with the Trio Calgari Klezmer, playing lively Yiddish music by means of accordion, violin and base.

Speeches by dignitaries ensued. The words spoken were just beautiful for me to hear. The talk by Schulleiterin (Principal) Frau Eike Reicher, was especially meaningful to me.

A delicious and professionally prepared collation, beautifully served by the students, followed the ceremony. Because of kosher restrictions, we had to pass on many of the yummy-looking delicacies.

The name of the school, the Marion Blumenthal Hauptschule, will be placed prominently on the beautiful new building, with a portrait of me to be hung in the entrance foyer.

In addition to the Klezmer musicians, the school band serenaded us with music. This was a day to long-remember, and never to forget, for both Nathaniel and me. 

On the day we left for the airport for our journey home, I called the school to say farewell to Frau Reicher. The school receptionist answered – “Marion Blumenthal Hauptschule – Guten Tag.” Quite thrilling, I must admit.

Nathaniel is working on a U-tube video showing the day`s event, and will let you know when it is ready.

In subsequent newsletters, I will share with you more about this incredible visit. Until then, aufviedersehen - Happy Holidays, and a healthy, happy, productive New Year of 2011, in a world of love and peace!