NEW YORK (Oct. 31)
The first official delegation of American Jewish religious leaders to visit East Germany since the end of World War II will take place next week, when leaders of American Reform Judaism will mark the 50th anniversary of Kristallnacht in East Berlin.
A group of 50, who will fly there Nov. 6 for a week, are members of the board of trustees of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the congregational body of the Reform movement.
The group, headed by Rabbi Alexander Schindler, the UAHC president, will be the guests of the American ambassador.
Kristallnacht, or night of broken glass, occurred during the night of Nov. 9-10, 1938. It was the first organized pogrom in Nazi Germany and is regarded as the precursor of the Holocaust.
The anniversary is being marked with appropriate observances in both East and West Germany.
The group will participate in the cornerstone-laying of a new synagogue on the site of the famed Oranienburgerstrasse synagogue in East Berlin.
A Reform temple, it was desecrated on Kristallnacht and bombed during World War II. The East German government has agreed to allocate money toward its reconstruction. It will also house a Jewish museum and serve as a community center.
The Reform group will be the guests of the East German parliament on Nov. 8, and that afternoon will join a silent march to the site in East Berlin where books were burned by the Nazis.
Schindler, who was born in Munich and fled Germany with his family in 1938, will officiate at Sabbath services on Nov. 11 at the last remaining synagogue in East Berlin.
The entire Jewish population of East Germany is estimated at no more than 3,000.
The Reform delegation also will recite Kaddish at the former Nazi concentration camps of Ravensbruck and Sachsenhausen, outside Berlin.