Lutheran Bishops issue statement of solidarity to the Jewish Community on the 80th Anniversary of Kristallnacht

Date posted: Friday 09 November 2018

“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

– Amos 5:24


On November 9, 1938, the organized beginning of the Holocaust of the Jewish people was carried out by the Nazi rule in Germany. On that night, and into the next day, 267 synagogues were burned to the ground, 7500 Jewish-owned businesses were destroyed and looted, 91 people were murdered, and 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps.


Today marks the 80th anniversary of what became known as Kristallnacht, or “The Night of Broken Glass” – a turning point in Nazi anti-Semitic policy. It is an anniversary that we, as Lutherans, must pay special attention to, because Martin Luther’s later writings were used to justify such actions towards Jews.


In 1994, the Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America adopted a declaration of the ELCA to the Jewish Community. In that declaration it states:


“The Lutheran communion of faith is linked by name and heritage to the memory of Martin Luther, teacher and reformer. Honoring his name in our own, we recall his bold stand for truth…In the spirit of that truth-telling, we who bear his name and heritage must with pain acknowledge also Luther’s anti-Judaic diatribes and the violent recommendations of his later writings against Jews.”


At the heart of our theology is the care for our neighbor — we are freed by God’s grace to live out our vocation as “neighbor”. In light of the recent attacks in Pittsburgh, and the rise of anti-Semitic speech and actions, we as followers of Christ must live out God’s commandments to love God with our whole being and love our neighbors as ourselves. For it is in the neighbor that we see the face of God.


We, as bishops of the ELCA across this region, invite members and congregations of our synods to:


  • Renounce and oppose violent, hateful, or anti-Semitic language or actions.
  • Engage in dialogue with neighbors of other faiths, beliefs, cultures, and worldviews that are not explicitly religious.
  • Accompany our neighbors in times of suffering.
  • Pray for our communities, our states, our country, and for our church that we may have a better understanding and cooperation between our brothers and sisters in the Jewish community.




The Rev. Jon V. Anderson, Bishop, Southwestern Minnesota Synod

The Rev. Thomas M. Aitken, Bishop, Northeastern Minnesota Synod

The Rev. Terry A. Brandt, Bishop, Eastern North Dakota Synod

The Rev. Steven H. Delzer, Bishop, Southeastern Minnesota Synod

The Rev. Patricia J. Lull, Bishop, Saint Paul Area Synod

The Rev. Brian D. Maas, Bishop, Nebraska Synod

The Rev. Mark Narum, Bishop, Western North Dakota Synod

The Rev. Rodger C. Prois, Bishop, Western Iowa Synod

The Rev. Ann M. Svennungsen, Bishop, Minneapolis Area Synod

The Rev. Lawrence R. Wohlrabe, Bishop, Northwestern Minnesota Synod

The Rev. David B. Zellmer, Bishop, South Dakota Synod