After Kristallnacht, My Grandmother Hoped We’d Shatter a Different Glass on Election Day

November 9th, 1938

On this day, my grandmother, living in Leipzig, Germany woke up to shattered glass. It was the morning after Kristallnacht, the night where Nazi sympathizers burnt synagogues, smashed windows, and let the Jewish people know once and for all they were not welcome in Germany. My grandmother’s love for Germany and German culture made the trauma of Kristallnacht and her family’s refugee flight to this country that much more traumatic. November 9th is seared into her being as the day her world changed forever.

November 9th, 2016

Right around now, that same grandmother, now 90 years old, is waking up. She, the first female president of her synagogue, voted for a woman to be the first female president of the U.S. She was hoping to shatter a different kind of glass — a glass ceiling. This morning, that glass remains unbroken.

But she, and we, are waking up to a different world. It’s not Kristallnacht. Yet, the world feels changed. For many that change feels right, like things are finally getting back on track. For many others, that change feels wrong and dark. Many are afraid, and given what’s been said over the past campaign those who are afraid have a right to be. No matter who you supported, these days, weeks and months are a time of reaching out, of listening to one another, and of affirming our most basic American values - freedom, equality, and tolerance. It’s especially a time to reach out to those who are most vulnerable in these times and stand with them, shoulder to shoulder. We all have work to do to try and piece together the pieces of our union which feel so fractured.

November 10th, 2016

Tomorrow, I will be in New Orleans officiating at a wedding. New Orleans is a place which knows the most profound sadness and loss and still somehow finds a way to sing. At the end of the wedding, as we do at every Jewish wedding, we will shatter glass. We shatter glass at times of joy to remind ourselves that there is brokenness is in the world. If you’re feeling like the world is broken today, I would challenge you to do the opposite — lift up a full glass. Make a toast to all the values you will continue to fight for no matter who is president. Remember that love is not a politician, faith is not a political party, hope is not a president. The power of these are just as real today as they were yesterday and will be tomorrow. Regardless of who would have won last night, we all have so much work to do to manifest those values in our world.

Rebbe Nachman says that if you believe breaking is possible, you must believe that fixing is possible.

Rebbe Leonard Cohen says: There is a crack, a crack in everything that’s how the light gets in.

Break the glass, fix the glass, L’Chaim — to life.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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After Kristallnacht, My Grandmother Hoped We’d Shatter a Different Glass on Election Day

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