Introduction

“After the death of the last witnesses, the remembrance of the Holocaust must not be entrusted to the historians alone. Now comes the hour of artistic creation.”—Aharon Appelfeld

It is never easy to find compelling material for teaching about the Holocaust that is also appropriate for a young audience. For many years, Holocaust education relied on historic facts and detailed personal stories. These days, the only survivors who are still with us were children during the war; theirs are the last eyewitness accounts. Aharon Appelfeld’s declaration rings especially true today. and could inform Holocaust education for future generations.

כתוב בעפרון בקרון החתום

(Katuv B'iparon B'karon Ha'chatum, "Written in Pencil in the Sealed Railway-Car")

Poem by Dan Pagis

כאן במשלוח הזה

אני חוה

עם הבל בני

אם תראו את בני הגדול

קין בן אדם

...תגידו לו שאני

   

Here in this carload

I am Eve

with Abel my son

If you see my other son

Cain son of man (Adam)

tell him that

Dan Pagis, an Israeli writer, was born in Romania in 1930. He spent his early years in a Nazi concentration camp in the Ukraine. He immigrated to pre-state Israel in 1946 and taught medieval Hebrew literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He became one of the most vibrant voices in modern Israeli poetry. His references to the Holocaust are sometimes oblique, filtered through his use of biblical or mystical images. He died in 1986.

>> Five poems by Dan Pagis with a teacher’s guide from Yad Vashem

The poem at Konzentrationslager Belzec Victims Memorial in Eastern Poland

Shoes

Etgar Keret, son of Holocaust survivors, is a celebrated author and filmmaker. “Shoes” is a story about present day Israeli dichotomy between memorializing the Holocaust and everyday reality and life.

Listen to Etgar Keret read “Shoes” (in English):

לכל איש יש שם

(Le’chol Ish Yesh Shem, "Each of Us Has a Name")

The poet Zelda (1914-1984), a devout Hasidic Jew, was well-versed in ancient sacred and traditional Jewi/sh texts. In 1926, she emigrated to Israel from her native Ukraine. Israelis have embraced her poem “Each of Us Has a Name” as an expression of their collective and personal experiences with trauma and loss.

Music by Hanan Yovel, Performed by Chava Alberstein  

לכל איש יש שם

שנתן לו אלוהים

ונתנו לו אביו ואימו

 

לכל איש יש שם

שנתנו לו קומתו ואופן חיוכו

ונתן לו האריג

 

לכל איש יש שם

שנתנו לו ההרים

ונתנו לו כתליו

 

לכל איש יש שם

שנתנו לו המזלות

ונתנו לו שכניו

 

לכל איש יש שם

שנתנו לו חטאיו

ונתנה לו כמיהתו

 

לכל איש יש שם

שנתנו לו שונאיו

ונתנה לו אהבתו

 

לכל איש יש שם

שנתנו לו חגיו

ונתנה לו מלאכתו

 

לכל איש יש שם

שנתנו לו תקופות השנה

ונתן לו עיוורונו

 

לכל איש יש שם

שנתן לו הים

.ונתן לו מותו

   

Each of us has a name

given by God

and given by our parents

 

Each of us has a name

given by our stature and our smile

and given by what we wear

 

Each of us has a name

given by the mountains

and given by our walls

 

Each of us has a name

given by the stars

and given by our neighbors

 

Each of us has a name

given by our sins

and given by our longing

 

Each of us has a name

given by our enemies

and given by our love

 

Each of us has a name

given by our celebrations

and given by our work

 

Each of us has a name

given by the seasons

and given by our blindness

 

Each of us has a name

given by the sea

and given by our death.

Additional Resources