No! It is forbidden for us to forget them – the millions of our brethren who perished in sanctification of the Divine name.
From the time that Israel became a nation, we were persecuted to our necks, enslaved and exiled. A holocaust of this nature, however, with such terrible destruction, we never knew. A third of our nation was destroyed, we lost the best and dear ones of our nation. Torah giants perished, their light was extinguished from the flame of Judaism – and we hastily forget. Is not this forgetting also part of the terrible Holocaust? Is it not also a tragedy among the tragedies?
In the annals of Jewish history, there are many chapters drenched in the blood of men, women, and children. Israel knows tribulation and suffering from time immemorial. Many are the days of mourning and tribulation in the calendar of the Hebrew nation. Our treasury of song and hymns is filled with dirges, laments and bitter weeping. For just as we know how to die the death of martyrs and mighty ones, we also know how to memorialize and perpetuate those of our people who have been slaughtered. We all recall the destruction of the nation and the land long ago, but we tend to forget the destruction of the nation in our own day.
No! It is forbidden for us to forget! The memorial day for the martyrs of our city and its environs must stand at the center of our life. It must become a day of uniting with the martyrs of our city, and with the millions who perished in the European Diaspora, until each and every one of us knows and feels what was lost to us in this frightful destruction, until each Jewish child knows what the bloodthirsty wild men perpetrated upon us, and how great is the breech in the loss of the mighty people, cedars of Lebanon, who were the glory of Israel.
The great traditional command beseeches us: Do not forget! And on the memorial day we will unite with our martyrs and together call out with a loud voice along with the entire House of Israel:
Yitgadal VeYitkadash Shmei Rabba!
An Eternal Light
In memory of the pure and holy martyrs who were murdered, burned and strangled
In the fields of Podhajce, Zlotniki and environs during the days of murder and slaughter.
Call out! Even today, with the passage of years
We so wish to know
Who and who, where and when, and how, how?
You so wished to place your ears to the pages of the book,
To see if is heard
The final sigh of a father,
The cry of a mother who was being strangled for eternity…
For there is a tear on every page of the book,
Each letter is a wailing lament;
Each line is a festering wound,
Each chapter is a valley of sacrifice.
Read, and know
How before the bright, shining light of the sun
The pure souls were dragged to the pits of the masses of the community.
They afflicted the blood of fathers and sons,
The blood of merciful mothers and their children,
The blood of brothers and sisters,
The blood of grooms and brides,
The blood of men and their wives,
The blood of teachers and their students
And they were all murdered as one in the sanctification of Your Unique Name.
Earth, do not cover their blood, so that there will not be a place for their cries.
You have no grave, a stone monument was not erected for you,
Letters were not engraved upon it, gold upon black.
To you, my dear ones, I have erected a monument in my heart.
I have etched its letters with tears and blood.
A monument of grief shines with its bright light,
Fathers to children will inherit it as an eternal memory
Mordechai Feder of blessed memory
The memorial tablet in the
Holocaust Cellar, Mount Zion, Jerusalem
The Memorial tablet states:
Lament, lament, my Soul Weeps
A dirge in the form of Eli Tzion
My G-d, my G-d, my soul weeps
And cry out, daughter of Israel,
Raise a cry and a lament
For a fire has consumed in Israel.
On the slaughter of the nation, which was prepared,
Tribulations of bereavement, a flood of blood,
Elderly and children without mercy,
A pure sacrifice upon the altar.
For the babes, weaned from breast,
Split upon the rocks
And for their blood that flowed
In public, before the eyes of their parents.
For the destroyed communities,
And for the destruction of the sanctuaries of G-d
Gone up in fiery flames
The cities of the glory of Israel.
Woe about the generations that were cut off,
The blood of fathers with the blood of children,
In the vale of Auschwitz they were cut off and perished
In the smoke of the chimneys.
Woe about the prisoners, dressed in sackcloth
Wasting away in their myriads,
In Treblinka and Majdanek
With no refuge for their bones.
Woe about the train cars, cramped with people,
Spread with sulfur and pitch,
Those parched with thirst, as their souls departed,
Shouted for water, but nobody gave.
Woe about the daughters who swooned
Women to whose souls the hand struck out
In their cotton robes they perished together
Without any concern for the desecration of their honor.
Woe about those frozen on the snowy fields,
Young children in the bosom of their mothers
And on the martyrs who shout out
Buried alive in pits.
Woe about the scrolls that were desecrated
By the Nazis who blasphemed G-d,
Shredded, torn and sullied
In the dung heaps, with nobody to rescue them.
Woe about the youth, the flower of the nation
Girded for battle, ready to rise up,
Against the murderous evildoers,
They shot at them with flashes of anger.
Woe about the martyrdom to G-d and the nation
And the revenge of the blood of the martyrs
With strength they gave up their souls
The fought and fell the deaths of the brave.
See, oh G-d, arise oh shriveled one,
My heart falls, my enemies rise.
Hear my prayer, hasten with a refuge
Save my soul from the men of blood.
A dirge by Y. L. Bialer, a Holocaust survivorFirst published by the chief rabbinate and the committee of Polish communities in the year 5608 (1948)
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Updated 22 Mar 2007 by LA