by Ya'acov NathanaelRoitman
Translated by Selwyn Rose
|Passover came in '46: in Dubno, the shul stayed closed the eve that made holy the day.
Though the snow was melting and the cherrytree bloomed each house was bent and ruined, each roof was in decay.
The streets were bare and empty, not a soul was passing by, the doors gaped wide, as did the gates, yet no one came that way.
Abandoned seemed each household, a brick from the walls cried out,
From HaBoker  14th Nisan 1946
[Translator's comment advising the adoption of my collaborator, Ms. Shirley Ginzburg's erudite analysis of the Hebrew poem's esoteric and literary language:
The author mingles references to traditional parts of the Haggadah, the guide for Passover rituals, celebrated on the Hebrew date 14 Nisan. The family Seder meal would be observed in Dubno, if there were any Jews left to do so. The houses are destroyed and vacant, the synagogue abandoned. The ‘doors gaped wide, as did the gates;’: During the Seder, a child opens the front door of the home, and all sing to welcome the metaphoric arrival of Elijah the Prophet. Here, they are openfor no one at all! ‘This is the bread of our sorrow’ recalls the opening line of the Haggadah: Halaḥma Aniyah ‘A brick cried out…’ The Egyptian slaves made bricks for the pyramids. ‘An unseen hand strikes out;’ alludes to the final plague, killing of the first born, recounted in the Seder. The Haidamak were Ukrainian Cossacks, who infamously fomented a massacre of Jews in Uman in 1768. Periodically, Cossacks and rioters stole wantonly during pogroms, especially the prized candlesticks used weekly to inaugurate holy times. Without them, there were no flames kindled to usher in the Passover holiday. Profane flames had destroyed Dubno's Jews, their homes and Temple.
by Netanel Bahiri (Bilizki)
Translated by Jerrold Landau
|My pen and paper tremble with convulsions
What strength do I have to describe everything to you
I only know this
To my city, it was as if the ruler prepared against it,
And he, his wife, and children came down, and it fell.
I knew you, my city, as a person knows the palm of his hand
I knew that they destroyed my city from the face of the earth
You stand before my eyes alive, young, bustling
And with you everything is emptied out, and they live: Father, Mother, and the like
I will ask and who does not know my mouth where are you, where are you both together?
|From Yiddish: Y. Netaneli|
As related by Rabbi Leibish Vinokur of Dubno, in Israel in TSHAT (1949)
Translated by Selwyn Rose
The event occurred three days after the Shavuot festival in the year TRZG (1942)  14th. At that time I was in the home of Rabbi Eliyahu Guttmann (May Gd avenge his blood), when they came and took Rabbi Yisrael Yudl Diamand a known businessman and the soninlaw of Perl, for execution. Rabbi! I screamed Rabbi, can you see who they are taking?
Rabbi Eliyahu, who was standing next to the window, raised his eyes sky ward and cried Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is One! and he fell silent.
After a few moments, he lowered his gaze and murmured: Escape for your lives…the heavens are empty…
by Ya'acov Netaneli-Roitman
Translated by Selwyn Rose
As I stood gazing mournfully at the devastated town of Dubno, all that met my eye was a solitary cherry-tree standing in the garden of what had been our home, beladen with the ripe, blood-red fruit. All that could be seen in the deathly silence was the glow of a red-hot bar of iron from the burning rubble rendering asunder the bricks enclosing it as its heat caused the bricks to split. Only the cherry-tree was afire, its glowing-red fruit calling out in the silence for rebellion.
As market day came to a close in Dubno on the banks of the River Ikva, Jewish homes were set ablaze and a thick pall of smoke covering the town lay like a carpet over everything.
The unspeakably evil Asmodeus, who knew only to create horror among Man, became personified by the rioting Germans, shooting at everyone with their machine guns or force-marching young children along, among whom was Senele, with volleys of shots; it was not far to walk
An evil one grasped the young artist with the soul of a poet who, clutching a stick of charcoal created a living breathing image of Marshal Pilsudski with his magnificent mustache on the pavement. Then uncle and grandfather quickly appeared chatting with the neighbor Malka-Etta, gazing wonderingly at the innocent child's creation on the ground.
The fresh ripening fruit on the cherry-tree attracted the attention of passersby and from the Ḥeder came the sounds of Akdamot Milin carried on the air as a warming refrain arising from the razed fields after the pain and suffering of the destruction.
The diminutive Nathaniel now appeared alone at the doorway of the Rabbi's house and study and entered the pit of hell. He bore in his hand a brush well-dipped in color and he carried it into the heavens like a magician wafted on high from the thick branches of the tree. And there in the skies appeared a castle, a river, the hillsides of Dubno her meadows, forests and suburbs, her markets and fairs, the hustle, bustle and confusion of her streets, the synagogue with its magnificent Holy Ark, all in contrast to the ringing of the church bells pealing out their glee at the suffering of the Jews.
And among them stood the cherry-tree beneath which stood two others and over all yet two more, bearing between them the first fruits on their way to Yerushalyim And again, a puzzling grandfather and father will come, unable to understand how the senses of such a small child could create such complex images?...
And today behold: there is no Senele while a toad and a frog in a springtime chorus is heard incessantly So come and see as the street awakens, weep with mourners in the street. The hand of a Haidamak has strewn arrows around leaving only brush and thorn-bushes. On the ground beneath the cherry-tree, Tikun Shavuot is taking place and we weep together with them and strike our heads against the wall
Come and see there is no Senele his glowing eye has weakened and the colorful sky has become grey and dull like a leaden bullet.
Today, in the Baratz Beit-Midrash I saw a dancing competition taking place. It was not night-time and there was no dawn and torches were lighted at dusk. From every side, from every grave night-clothes flew in the air and there was a pile of bodiless heads of children heaped against the walls. They came out to read the Akdamot together but their mouths brought forth only dry canes and reeds for the event.
It was as if on a blooming colorful flower-bed of azure-yellow and red, silence poured all over a disappointed orchestra of what had gone before; mouths whispering from decapitated heads the story of the robbery and pillage and the helpless dancing without bodies, without blood and without limbs.
Oh, cherry-tree, oh, cherry-tree for whom do you bloom? If it is for the devouring German then deprive him of it cherry-tree oh, cherry-tree for whom are your berries? If for the Haidamaks may you cause your blossoms to rot
Land O, land. O grazing meadows of Satan, let no peace come upon you, may eternal silence be your fate; may the fruit bring forth nothing but a curse upon you and may your soul be placed upon the pyre.
Tel-Aviv, the Festival of Shavuot 1946.
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