Translated by Renee Miller
Edited by Fay Bussgang
My splendid shtetl Brzezin|
That the butchers annihilated,
My heart my soul . . .
I remain a mourner since the great disaster,
Since then, I search for words of comfort;
Words to expel the grief, the gloom
And helpless is my search . . .
My tongue stammers out unintelligible speech
And suddenlyas from a spring
A stream of tears rushed out,
That I could not quell . . .
Poisoned my heart with gall . . .
And from my lips stream out
Curses, words of blight,
Against assassins' hands
That annihilated, ravaged
My splendid shtetl, Brzezin . . .
It is well-known that the enemy,
In his malice, sought
Its total destruction.
The enemy did not completely succeed
In his devilish plan,
Woe unto us,
Impoverished men are left, heirs
Spread throughout the world's parts,
Who will the great epic
Of my shtetl and its holy martyrs
Relate for generations, for eternity . . .
We will tell
Of the beautiful, tender, chaste mothers;
Of persons of stately appearance, virtuous, observant fathers;
Of the toiling, ordinary, simple,
The shoemakers who shod the young and old;
The butchers' boys, the jolly wagon drivers,
The bakers, the hat-makers, the porters,
Who carried their weekly burden
With a Yiddish song ringing out . . .
We will tell of your Shabosim [Sabbaths] and Yomim-Tovim [holidays].
We will tell
Of your streets and your domains
About your happiness and your pain;
About your sages and your buffoons,
Who sweetened your burden, your poverty,
With roshinkes un mandlen [raisins and almonds] . . .
We will remember
Your malamdim [teachers] and your balitfilis [leaders of prayer],
Who nurtured us for generations.
We will tell
About your streams and orchard-gardens,
That spread graciously
Over Rogow and Koluszki Streets,
Where Brzeziner youth
Spent many sweet days and nights . . .
We will roll up the Megillah-Brzezin, [scroll of story of Brzezin]
That is preserved in our memory.
We will tell of a beautiful past
And the surviving witnesses will also tell
Of the last flickering, sunset days,
Of extinguished lives . . .
The Brzeziner earth became parched! . . .
Going to Nowe Miasto (New Town),
In the direction of the marketplace
Stood our besmedresh
The buildingfar from a marble palace;
The exterior walls
More gray than white
From spring rains
And wintry snowy blizzards,
Year in, year out
Whipped and thrashed them . . .
Once there was a liveliness here,
Oh, how clear it is in memory
The maged [preacher], who from time to time
There once was a townBrzezin
For the town.
For old and young;
For small and large
You were the butt of ridicule . . .
Smiled at everyone you met.
Kheder-yinglekh [school boys]
Did not let you walk through the streets.
Whip across your face.
Instead of anger, wrath
Only love and goodness
Did you show the pranksters . . .
Your fate is
you saidfixed on high. . . .
Met your hard fate
With a gamzu letoyve [it's all for the best].
You also did not
Avoid Hitler's destruction.
They, the devils,
With horrible pain . . .
They flayed your flesh
With inhuman torture.
The swine could not break . . .
For the God of Israel
You had no complaints.
All the affliction
You bore in silence,
Perhaps predestined from on high . . .
The executioner tightened
A noose around your neck.
In your last step to the gallows
You murmured words
Words made holy
In the great folk disaster,
That will, in their simplicity
Make your name eternal
For coming generations;
Yesterday, to you, I was
Yudel the water carrier
Tomorrow, I will be
Yudel Kodesh [the holy martyr]! . . .
Like an incendiary
Your last testament words fell
On the face of the murderer.
Those very simple words
Your life and your death,
On the list of our
Great folk kedoyshim [holy martyrs].
Our writers and artists,
Will, from your simple life
And will raise word-monuments to you. . . .
The murderous hands,
Drove into the gas chambers
The old men and old women;
Our women and men;
Our children and suckling infants . . .
The Creator and His creation
To the lowest low,
Bloody hand of Cain,
They sought out, on the cemetery
The remains of the long dead,
Of our furthest,
Of our nearest,
Their skeletal remains,
In earthly concealment,
With beastly feet.
Left as a symbol,
For future generations
There in Brzezin
The very much loved oyel
Of the great scholar Reb Szymon,
Who passed through our town,
And not wanting to desecrate the Sabbath,
Stayed in our town for Shabes.
And when the Jews lit the Havdole [signifying end of Sabbath] candle
The soul of Reb Szymon Bel-Rakhmones
Was gathered into Eternity . . .
The Brzeziner community
Awarded the great scholar,
The most beautiful spot
In their beysakvores [cemetery]
Later the Brzeziner religious community
Of the great bal-mide [man of high moral character]
Raised an oyel . .
Since then, Jews
When paying their respects at the graveside of their parents
Have also included the grave of this holy man
Leaving there their worries and troubles.
We begged the great Bel-Rakhmones,
He should intercede for us in heaven . . .
With little stones and kvitlekh [notes of supplication],
That observant women
A little hill towered toward heaven . . .
New Jewish lives will rise
Three tailor apprentices, very new at their work,
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Updated 20 Apr 2008 by LA