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Holocaust Day Ceremony -

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Tehillim 120

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1 A Song of Ascents. {N}
In my distress I called unto the LORD, and He answered me.
2 O LORD, deliver my soul from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.
3 What shall be given unto you, and what shall be done more unto you, you deceitful tongue?
4 Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of broom.
5 Woe is me, that I sojourn with Meshech, that I dwell beside the tents of Kedar!
6 My soul has full long had her dwelling with him that hates peace.
7 I am all peace; but when I speak, they are for war. {P}

Tehillim 3

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1 A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.
2 LORD, how many are mine adversaries become! Many are they that rise up against me.
3 Many there are that say of my soul: 'There is no salvation for him in God.' Selah
4 But thou, O LORD, art a shield about me; my glory, and the lifter up of my head.
5 With my voice I call unto the LORD, and He answereth me out of His holy mountain. Selah
6 I lay me down, and I sleep; I awake, for the LORD sustaineth me.
7 I am not afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.
8 Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God; for Thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek, {N}
Thou hast broken the teeth of the wicked.
9 Salvation belongeth unto the LORD; Thy blessing be upon Thy people. Selah {P}

1. The Liberation of Buchenwaldby Harry Herder Jr.

Slowly, as we formed up, a ragged group of human beings started to creep out of and from between the buildings in front of us. As we watched these men, the number and the different types of buildings came to my attention. From them came these human beings, timidly, slowly, deliberately showing their hands, all in a sort of uniform, or bits and pieces of a uniform, made from horribly coarse cloth with stripes running vertically. They came out of the buildings and just stood there, making me feel foolish with all of that fi repower hanging on me. I certainly wouldnt be needing it with these folks. It was then that the smell of the place started to get to me. Our noses, rebelling against the surroundings they were constantly subjected to were not functioning anywhere near normally. But now there was a new odor, thick and hanging, and it assaulted the senses. Sergeant Blowers told us that some of the prisoners spoke English. Then he got even quieter, looked at the ground for as moment, raised his eyes, and looking over our heads, began very softly, so softly we could barely hear him. He told us that this is what was called a concentration camp, that we were about to see things we were in no way prepared for. He told us to look, to look as long as our stomachs lasted, and then to get out of there for a walk in the woods. I had never known Sergeant Blowers to be like this. The man had seen everything I could imagine could be seen, and this place was having this effect on him. I didnt understand. I didnt know what a concentration camp was, or could be, but I was about to learn.

(I soon saw) the bodies of human beings (that) were stacked like cordwood. All of them dead. All of them stripped. The inspection I made of the pile was not very close, but the corpses seemed to be all male. The bottom layer of the bodies had a north/south orientation, the next layer went east/ west, and they continued alternating. The stack was about five feet high, maybe a little more; I could see over the top. They extended down the hill, only a slight hill, for fifty to seventy-five feet. Human bodies neatly stacked, naked, ready for disposal. The arms and legs were neatly arranged, but an occasional limb dangled oddly. We looked and said not a word. A group of guys from the company noticed us and said, Wait till you see in there. They pointed to a long building which was about two stories high, and butted up tightly to the chimney. We moved gently through those people, through the doors and felt the warmth immediately. Heavy metal trays had been pulled out of the openings, and on the trays were partially burned bodies. On one tray was a skull partially burned through, with a hole in the top; other trays held partially disintegrated arms and legs. It appeared that those trays could hold three bodies at a time. And the odor, my God, the odor. I had enough. I couldnt take it any more. I left the building. Until then I had no idea what a crematorium was. None of us, no one in our company, even amongst those who had been the originals, was prepared for what we were now surrounded by. It was not human. It did not seem real. But it was all too real, it was the only life that some of the prisoners had known for years. Maybe it was all too human. Maybe this is what we are. Another story? No. About what they did with the women prisoners? No. I quit. No more. That was probably the most brutal night I have ever lived through. Enough.

Source: Yad VaShem.

2. The Diary of Anne Frank - July 15, 1944 

It's difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It's a wonder I haven't abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. It's utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more. In the meantime, I must hold on to my ideals. Perhaps the day will come when I'll be able to realize them!

--The Diary of a Young Girl, eds. Otto H. Frank and Mirjam Pressler, p. 332

3. The Butterfly

Mordechai Anilevich

Leader of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

The last, the very last,
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.
Perhaps if the sun's tears would sing
against a white stone.

Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly way up high.
It went away I'm sure because it wished to
kiss the world good-bye.

For seven weeks I've lived in here,
Penned up inside this ghetto.
But I have found what I love here.
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut branches in the court.
Only I never saw another butterfly.

That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don't live here,
in the ghetto.

4. Terezín

The heaviest wheel rolls across our foreheads
To bury itself deep somewhere
inside our memories.

We've suffered here more than enough,
Here in this clot of grief and shame,
Wanting a badge of blindness
To be a proof for their own children.

A fourth year of waiting, like standing above a swamp
From which any moment might gush forth a spring.

Meanwhile, the rivers flow another way,
Another way,
Not letting you die, not letting you live.

And the cannons don't scream and the guns don't bark
And you don't see blood here.
Nothing, only silent hunger.
Children steal the bread here and ask and ask and ask
And all would wish to sleep, keep silent, and
just go to sleep again...

The heaviest wheel rolls across our foreheads
To bury itself deep somewhere inside our memories.

6. Jewish Deaths

Germany 195,000

Austria 53,000

Czechoslovakia 255,000

Denmark 1,500

France 140,000

Belgium 57,000

Luxemburg 3,000

Norway 1,000

Holland 120,000

Italy 20,000

Yugoslavia 64,000

Greece 64,000

Bulgaria 5,000

Romania 530,000

Hungary 200,000

Poland 3,271,000

USSR 1,050,000

The estimated number of Jews that were killed is 6,029,500.


This boy in the picture of ghetto is a star

from documentary films, war albums,

too large cap is falling

like the universe on his frail shoulders.

The small boy is not afraid any more,

for half of the century he has played the same role,

hands raised above his head

while an esesman's rifle points at his back

who will believe in stars dying in eyes of a child,

only blue star on the white armband is real.

Yvonna Opoczynska-Goldberg, 1998

Tehillim 130

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1 A Song of Ascents. {N} Out of the depths have I called You, O LORD.
2 Lord, hearken unto my voice; {N}
let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.
3 If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?
4 For with You there is forgiveness, that You may be feared.
5 I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope.
6 My soul waits for the Lord, more than watchmen for the morning; yea, more than watchmen for the morning.
7 O
Israel, hope in the LORD; for with the LORD there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption.
8 And He will redeem
Israel from all his iniquities. {P}

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