|Rev. Darrell Berger
“Kristallnacht is November 9”
Rev. Darrell Berger, November 2014
Kristallnacht, which took place on Nov. 9, 1938, is often called the beginning of The Holocaust. This year it falls on a Sunday when I will not be present. UU’s, who often celebrate various holidays on the Jewish calendar, very seldom recognize this terrible event.
The list of evil, violence and injustice done that night ought to be unimaginable. But it is not. History shows that it was just the beginning of even larger events that would be even more unimaginable. Thousands of Jews were displaced, hundreds of synagogues and Jewish businesses destroyed. The night itself is called “Night of the Broken Glass,” after the many windows that were broken in Jewish neighborhoods in Germany and Austria.
There are a few aspects of that horror from which we might have something to learn. The destructive events were not legal, but the local authorities were instructed not to prevent them. There had been laws passed stripping Jews of some of their basic citizenship, and a great many more would soon follow. This immense evil was undertaken legally, in a democracy, by elected officials.
Also, at the time of Kristallnacht, Jews represented less than one percent of the population of Germany. They had no real power or electoral clout, despite constant propaganda to the contrary. They were no threat to anybody, except in the deranged minds of those who seized power.
The average German, in fact, even the average Nazi Party member, did not approve of Kristallnacht, let alone what followed. But some of this was hidden, and some, people chose not to see.
The “never again” approach has, I believe, been useful. It has not, however, prevented acts that, if not exactly the same, have been similar enough to shame us all. It is useful for Unitarian Universalists to understand not only the horror of evil intent and action, but also the complicity of complacency.
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Rev. Berger was born in Toledo, Ohio and attended Vanderbilt University and Divinity School. He has over 25 years experience as a UU minister, mostly serving on a full-time basis. He has served churches in North Carolina and Massachusetts.
Closer to Staten Island he has served the Fourth Universalist Society in Manhattan and until now as a Halftime Consulting minister at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Essex County in Orange, NJ. He has experience with smaller congregations and historical buildings.
"This will be the fourth congregation I've served with an historic church building," Rev. Berger said. "The task of ministry to the building and the congregation is the same: carefully maintain what still works and renovate what doesn't."
He enjoys preaching and his topics range widely, always returning to the central themes of social justice equality. "Theologically, I'm a Transcendentalist," Rev. Berger said. "Emerson used Buddhism and poetry to help realize an American spirituality that bends toward justice. I try to follow that path."
He is also an expert on baseball history and memorabilia and has co-written books with former players Roy White and Mitch Williams. He has been a featured speaker at the New York City Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), speaking on "Baseball Players as Human Beings."
He lives in Jersey City with his wife, two dogs and two cats.
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Contact Rev. Berger:
Church Office: 718-447-2204
Email: minister -at- uucsi.org
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