Friday, April 20, 2012


Holocaust Remembrance Day came and went with barely a murmur from the media this year. I'm in no position to judge: I myself remembered only after the twenty-four hour day ended, at six o'clock last night. And remembered only because, after watching the newest film version of "Jane Eyre," we happened upon a moving PBS program on our television set. We came in half way through; I didn't catch the title, and a Google search has not proved helpful.

Suffice it to say that the film was a documentary about the Krakow Jewish Culture Festival, an initiative on the part of one dedicated, non-Jewish Pole to recover some of the rich pre-Holocaust culture of his country's past. Fleeting sequences that revisited life in the pre-war shtetls and Jewish urban communities and, with commendable brevity, in the death camps during that dark period of history were montaged with interviews with survivors and the living relatives of those who did not survive. There were also scenes of a modern-day memorial ceremony at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where survivors and their families, along with a small army of rabbis and cantors gathered to remember, yes, but also to mark the triumph of the Jewish people over the attempt to obliterate them from the earth. In the most moving of these scenes, an ancient Torah that had, too, miraculously survived, was unrolled--unusually, to its full length--and wrapped in a kind of protective ritual around an inner circle of those who had lived through, and beyond that monstrous cataclysm.

Much of the footage, though, was devoted to the music of the festival, with cantor soloists, men and women, blending their marvelous voices with great, soaring choruses in the rendering of those profoundly melancholy--and, too, profoundly joyful--songs that are the age-old heritage of the religion. Very lovely and, at times, quite heart-breaking in their all-encompassing humanity. It was a good way to remember, overwhelming all that is potentially cruel and destructive in our species with all that is potentially good and fruitful. I'm glad to have been reminded, and not too late--never too late--that now is as good a time as any to remember what must never be forgotten.


stuart said...

Armenian Genocide Commemorated is next week, April 24th,
More things to remember to not forget.

Doctor Noe said...

Peter, here's my bit for the cause.

Please post where apprpriate.

THIS VIDEO WAS MADE BY DANNY BARKER, a young student in a High School in the Norfolk-Virginia Beach, VA area. If anyone knows anybody connected to the annual Elie Wiesel Writing/Visual Arts Competition For Students presented by The Holocaust Commission of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, please get this to them so that Danny may be considered favorably in the competition:
Holocaust PhotoStory -- A Child of Survivors' Tale
This is a school project by Danny Barker, which includes my family's testimony about their experience of the Holocaust. Here are Danny's words describing it:
Hello, my name is Danny Barker, I'm 13 years old and I attend school at The Academy of International Studies at Rosemont. There is a city-wide competition about the Jewish Holocaust. For the competition, there are two options, you may either do a multimedia, essay, poem, or some form of physical art on an experience of the holocaust or being indifferent about it (honestly, i don't know how anyone could be indifferent about such a terrible period of human history, but every person has their own opinion). I chose to to do a multimedia Photo Story on an experience of the Holocaust, but then I looked around and saw that a great deal of people were also doing multimedia projects, and I prefer to not blend in with the crowd, so I decided to do something very original. What I plan on doing is a Photo Story with pictures of the holocaust, and an interview with a holocaust survivor as the audio.  What I plan on doing is a phone interview. I've downloaded a software called Audacity where i can convert recordings into mp3 files. With this i will be able to have the interview as the audio of the Photo Story! The 3rd, 2nd and 1st place winners of the contest will win money (I'm not sure of the amount). I'm not doing this for the money, I'm doing this spread awareness of the Holocaust to prevent another one, and to pass on the legacies of survivors whose stories will hopefully be told for ages!