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Their Blood Cries Out

05/17/2017 11:25:05 AM

May17

Each time that I return from March of the Living, I found myself a bit confounded by the peculiarities of our lives. In Poland we visit a shtetl that looks like it might have in the 18th centuray. One half of the town was occupied by the Jews and the other half by Gentiles. For centuries they had lived in peace with each other. The Nazis came and marched all 3000 Jews into a beautiful nearby forest. Mass graves had been dug and all but 25 of the town’s Jews were systematically murdered.

On one of my previous visits to this little town I wrote the following:

A poor little shtetl

Four centuries old

A rich Jewish life

Of prayer and Torah.

 

Three thousand souls departed the earth

On that dreadful day

Marched to the forest of God’s beauty

Where the ground received their blood.

 

The birds sang

The trees rustled

In the wind

Who knew that God cried that day?

 

Many years later I walk that path

I hear the bird’s song

I sense the sadness of the trees

As tears well up in my eyes, I feel their anguish.

 

God’s beauty forever blighted

The pure air forever polluted

Their souls have ascended

May God watch over them now, finally

 

I know that my ancestors lived in a similar shtetl about an hour and a half from this village. I know that they suffered a similar fate. It is only by the grace of God that I exist. So what does that existence mean? What are we here to accomplish. In the light of the lives that were cut off before their time, how do we look in the mirror?

The blood of our ancestors demands of us that we stand up for those ion need. It demands that we find no place for prejudice in our hearts. It requires that we create a society based on inclusion, truth and integrity. We must not only embody these traits ourselves but demand them of our elected leaders as well. In order to not repeat the past, we must be very vigilant about the present and safeguard the future.

Tycochin is the name of this shtetl but there are a thousand more just like it. May its memory never fade.

Thu, November 23 2017 5 Kislev 5778