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[Page 457]

Yizkor [Remembrance]

Translated from the Hebrew / Footnotes Added by Jerrold Landau

Donated by Jeff Deitch

[Page 458]

[Blank in the original]

[Page 459]

Let the Nation of Israel remember the holy communities
Of Braslav, Opsa, Okmenitz,
Dubina, Zamosh, Zarach, Yaisi, Yod, Slobodka,
Plusy, Kislovshchitzna and Rimshan,
Which were cruelly uprooted, destroyed and annihilated.
May they recall their murdered residents, victims of the evil regime,
Who were tortured physically and spiritually in the death camps.
May they recall all those who were deported to desolate lands, leaving no trace
Who were massacred in marketplaces and roads, hauled to their destruction in death wagons
Who were buried alive, burned, slaughtered, drowned and strangled
Whose honor was violated, and whose blood was spilled, by impure hands, in sanctification of the Divine Name.

May the Nation of Israel remember its dear children, pure ones the children of pure ones
Who were robbed from their parents' bosom by beasts in human disguise and taken like sheep to slaughter
Who were beheaded and murdered, in all manner of unnatural deaths
And piled in heaps in the open –––
Infants and babies who were broken against stone walls, who were tossed down from walls
Whose lives were cut off in their infancy by cruel hands.

May the Nation of Israel remember the pure children, and the splendor of the worlds[1]
And may they not forget the evil and the atrocities
As long as they live upon the earth.

 

Lighting candles on the Memorial Day

Standing (from left to right): Rosa Kastrel, Pesia Eidelman, Sara Movshenzon, Chana Lubovitz, Miriam Rotenberg, Munka Shmutzer

Footnote

  1. The present world and the world to come. Return

[Page 461]

Statement by Polia (Pesia) Kahat

Daughter of Frida and Sander (Alexander) Veif

To our community that is no more.

In those days of early summer, in the month of Sivan, when everything was flowering, and the vegetation was renewing its growth, they took our dear ones to annihilation [June 3–5, 1942].

Their souls float and rise higher and higher, and they have a case against the Creator of the world. “Why? For what reason did they destroy us? For what was the great punishment? For which sins? Why did they annihilate us with such terrible death?” And we, who were saved from the great flames, hear the weeping. They accompany us all along the course of our lives. We hear them not only on the days of Yizkor.[1] We see them always, the dear images, known to us, and we see the old houses and paths through which they led the Jewish community to the sacrifice.

The wound is fresh, the agony is great, but one doesn't build life in the cemetery. We, the survivors, left the place that was forever accursed.

Our agonized generation, which knew destruction and annihilation, was also blessed to hear the song of the building and revival of the Land. We merited a state, in which the terrible murderer of the Jews ––– Eichmann ––– was judged and met his punishment. We mustn't forget the disaster that befell us in the 20th century, in which a third of our nation was murdered. The memory of those who perished will be etched in our hearts and in the hearts of every Jew. We must perpetuate with appropriate honor our parents, brothers and sisters, who were denigrated, starved, beaten and murdered for being Jews.

Blessed be the memory of our martyrs who were tortured in the ghettoes, camps, forests and battles ––– you who were thrown alive into the pits by the enemy.

Everyone who perished in the terrible storm ––– may your memory be honored!

Footnote

  1. The four specific days when the Yizkor service is recited. Return

[Page 462]

Remove the shoes from your feet …[1]

A holy silence enveloped us as we, the handful of survivors, paced behind the black stretcher, upon which there was a small earthenware urn with a handful of soil brought from the vale of death of our dear ones, the Jews of our town [Braslav], who were cut down by the German Nazis and their assistants.

We were a handful, just a few tens of people. We walked with bowed heads. Our footsteps echoed in the silent space of the cemetery, in silence, immersed in searing grief and united in our hearts …

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High …[2]

Is this everything? …

This is what remains from the bustling Jewish community, its lives, institutions, activities? …

An earthenware urn, with soil saturated in blood and torment, lowered into a grave, the dust of the martyrs blended with the Holy Ground …

Magnified and sanctified be the Great Name …[3]

We stood silently next to the grave, among the graves of the remnants of many Jewish communities of Poland. Memories and forgotten things rose up and flew away. Things forgotten about lives that once were and are no longer, life about which only we, the few survivors, carry memories in our hearts.

Magnified and sanctified be the Great Name …

 

Former residents of Braslav and vicinity at the Memorial Day gathering in Israel

[Page 464]

Memorial stone in Holon, Israel

 

The Hebrew inscription on the stone says, “In memory of the martyrs of the community of Braslav and the [surrounding] area[:] Zarach, Yaisi, Dubina, Rimshan, Zamosh, Opsa, Plusy, Slobodka, Kislovshchitzna, Yod.”

Footnotes

  1. Exodus 3:5, when Moses stood at the burning bush. Return
  2. Psalm 91:1: Yoshev Beseter Elyon. Return
  3. Opening words of the Kaddish prayer. Return


[Page 465]

Next to the Monument

A Poem by Yaacov Aviel

I am here, my dear ones, standing silently opposite you
With a silent prayer upon my lips: rest in peace in the soil of the homeland.
––– Yitgadal veyitkadash [Magnified and sanctified] …

For a moment it seemed to me as if I am talking to you,
Indeed you are known to me by name –––
And the stone monument, roads, roads
A built–up city, a multitude of people!
Towns and villages that I know and remember
––– Did somebody call my name and the name of my father?
Yes, it is I.
I am here, floating around, I was tormented,
Among the towns that I knew.

And see: Everyone had gathered in silence
In the bounds of the eternal city, like a large fair
Of dry bones awaiting resurrection.
Monuments, monuments, with the word “Shoah” engraved upon them,
A large multitude, entire communities,
And what is left of them are ashes and bones.

To me these ashes are family
To me the Holocaust was brothers, parents
And my brethren are many millions such as these,
Millions went, were hauled, and pushed,
And the vale of murder filled up with bones.

And atop all these ashes we set up a monument to guard the place of agony
The story of their deaths cries out, and the searing wound
These and these existed, and thus and thus did they perish
Certainly, they called my name in the final moment
Certainly, they wished that their eternal rest be here.

Here I am, my dear ones, next to your face in stone
With a lowered gaze and a stolen tear
Silently, silently, I recite the prayer,
And I stand silently next to you:
Yitgadal veyitkadash

(The monument was erected on 17 Sivan 5741 ––– June 19, 1981.)

 

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