Interfaith Kristallnacht Remembrance

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Date(s) - Wednesday, November 8, 2017
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

St. Alban's Church


The hauntingly beautiful songs and poetry and the heroic life story of Czech writer Ilse Weber will be featured in this year’s interfaith Kristallnacht commemorative service on Wednesday, November 8 at 7:00 pm at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church.

Professor Michal Schwartz, who has collected and translated Weber’s writings for a newly published volume, “Dancing on a Powder Keg,” will share Weber’s vivid and intimate testimony of her family’s struggle for survival under Nazi domination. Her talk is sponsored by WHC’s Amram Scholar Series.

Weber, who sent her older son to safety with a friend in London in 1939, was deported from Prague to the Theresienstadt ghetto in 1942 along with her husband and younger son. At first in letters bearing witness, and later in more than 60 poems written in Theresienstadt, Weber transmitted an extraordinary personal account. Working in the ghetto’s children’s infirmary, Weber sought to make her young patients’ suffering more bearable by entertaining them with songs. When the entire infirmary was deported in 1944, she insisted on accompanying the children to Auschwitz, where she and her younger son were murdered. Her husband – who had managed to hide her poems and songs in a garden shed – survived and retrieved them in 1945. Decades later, many of her letters were discovered in the attic of the house in London where her friend had lived.

As part of the program, Cantors Manevich and Bortnick will perform some of Weber’s most beloved songs, including “Wiegala,” a lullaby that was featured in the Tony-award winning musical “Indecent.” Sarahbeth Grossman, the show’s producer, has described the performance of Wiegala “as perhaps the most haunting and beautiful part of the play.”

This year’s Kristallnacht service at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church will again be joined by clergy and members of Annunciation Catholic Church.