Monday, April 12, 2010

Holocaust Memorial Day

This morning, after the siren, I thought about two people.

One was Mr. Bill Ahrens, my eighth-grade social-studies teacher. I don’t remember whether he was a World War II veteran, but for some reason I seem to remember hearing that he was. He taught our class a unit on the Holocaust, during which he showed us the film Night and Fog. It was extremely difficult to watch, but Mr. Ahrens told us that we needed to see it because one day, people would try to say that the Holocaust had never happened, and here, on film, was proof that it had.

The other person whom I remembered was a co-worker in the US who, more than twenty years ago, maintained that anti-Semitism was dead. (This was the same workplace in which another co-worker later defaced, with impunity, a poster advertising events in honor of Israel Independence Day.)

I would like to contact Mr. Ahrens today to thank him... and I would also like to ask my former co-worker whether he still believes that anti-Semitism—or, as I prefer to name it, Jew-hatred—is dead.

Some more posts:

Katie Green: The six million, this time around

Treppenwitz: Jewish Anti-Semitism

Meryl Yourish: Never again

Finally, a song. Lyrics: Natan Alterman. Music: Naomi Shemer. It’s called “Al em ha-derekh”—a tree stood at the crossroads. In the song, which takes place sometime during the Aliyah Bet period, a young mother sings a lullaby to her son, a baby too young to understand the terrible and tragic story that she tells him about why they are on a barely-seaworthy boat on a stormy sea, sailing to the Land of Israel... and why his grandfather is not on the boat together with them.

The song was performed by the Israeli navy’s entertainment troupe in 1972. The lead singer is Haya Arad.

The video above contains a slightly abridged version. The full version, complete with lyrics, is here. Another full version that shows Haya Arad and the Navy Entertainment Troups is here. The lyrics (in Hebrew) are here.

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