Instead of writing a typical blogpost and roundup, we are sharing with you a guest post (by Jordie Gelsky) and a poem (by Techelet Bunder). The pictures appear at the end of this post.
Last year, I wrote a play for my school to perform. It was a historical fiction production about the Kindertransport. I remember when I was writing it, I wanted there to be a melody that would carry the play from the beginning to end and encompass the message of the entire show. We wrote a special Shema song because i think it really sets the foundation of our Yiddishkeit and as we mentioned several times – the Nisayon of the generation of the Holocaust was dying Al Kiddish Hash-m and we know of all those stories of people who said Shema before doing so. The Shema in the play that we wrote was a symbol of hope, unity, family, and the acknowledgement of Hashem in our lives through the good and bad times.
Saying Shema in the gas chambers was heart-penetrating for me and really want to take it upon myself to not just mumble a quick Shema but to let it sink in the words I’m saying and recognizing that when I’m going to sleep, there’s no guarantee that I’m going to wake up the next morning but if I do im going to live everyday Al Kiddish Hash-m.
Here’s a part of the song lyrics:
As you go to sleep at night
When the world’s no longer bright
Remember Hashem is always there
And for you He does care
Even when you’re feeling sad
Remember this- and you’ll feel glad
We love you and are connected to you
Hashem you can always turn to
I’m never alone
Your right there with me
I Gather my strength and look up to You
Father in Heaven
Watching over me ,
Protecting me, always by my side
Father in Heaven
Watching over me
Protecting me, constantly by my side
So cover your eyes now
And let the words flow
Shema Yisroel Hashem Elokaynu
He’s in charge, He’s the only one
He’s in charge He’s the only one
Sitting outside the gas chambers, we talked about the deep meaning of Shema and what we are supposed to have in mind when we say it. I recall learning that the names of Hash-m are like a diamond that sheds different colors of light and those colors appear so different and clash (Like His middos of Din and Rachamim) but ultimately they’re coming from the same source. People died saying Shema. Their stories ended there. But we walked out.
We are unbelievably PRIVILEGED to continue with the lines ואהבת״ and further deepen our relationship with Hash-m. In that same paragraph, we are also given the incredible opportunity to teach our future children Torah and to love Hash-m. Part of those teachings I think is to pass down what we have bore witness to from our knowledge of Holocaust. To bear witness is to see, hear, experience a significant, usually problematic, or pain-inducing event. It is often said that silence is an act of ignorance and cowardliness. All those names, embroidered eternally into the the book of names are people who have bore witness to an unfathomable catastrophe.
There are however, survivors, and the memorial is their outlet to eradicate the silence, and share their stories with the purpose for us to remember the Holocaust and pass down their memories to the next generations in order to keep them alive. And we should gracefully do so, because from each of our passed down words and ability to strengthen the sufferer’s last bit of life, we save those deceased victims of a forgotten abyss and build the gravestones they never received.
Those Little Lenses
Those little lenses have been with me through it all
From reading novels to reading roadsigns
To just seeing my surroundings
They’ve been there always
But what if they weren’t?
What if they were taken away?
Like they were taken from my brothers and sisters of the past
It stripped them of life
Those little lenses are their life source Seeing is living
So how are they able to live without those little lenses?
They walked blindly through selection
They walked blindly to be gassed
They walked blindly to their deaths
Walking towards your death without those little lenses
I can’t even bear those few moments when I arise in the morning
When I don’t have those little lenses
Then I reach for them and thank HaShem for those little lenses