Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

"I am a Jew and will be a Jew forever"

I've been a bit behind on inspirational thoughts lately, but came across a big one in the Hagaddah we used for the Passover Seder. A bit of context helps explain why I find it such an inspirational poem. The poem comes from a book called I Never Saw Another Butterfly, which I link to in my side bar. The book contains pictures drawn and poems written by children during their temporary stays in Terezin Concentration Camp, before they were sent to Auschwitz and other death camps. The back cover of the most recent edition of this book gives more information:

A total of 15,000 children under the age of fifteen passed through the Terezin Concentration Camp between the years 1942-1944; less than 100 survived. In these poems and pictures drawn by the young inmates of Terezin, we see the daily misery of these uprooted children, as well as their courage and optimism, their hopes and fears. The ghetto of Terezin (Thereseinstadt), located in the hills outside Prague, was an unusual concentration camp in that it was created to cover up the Nazi genocide of the Jews. Billed as the "Fuhrer's gift to the Jews," this "model ghetto" was the site of a Red Cross inspection visit in 1944. With its high proportion of artists and intellectuals, culture flourished in the ghetto -- alongside starvation, disease, and constant dread of transports to the death camps of the east. Every one of its inhabitants was condemned in advance to die.
Incidentally, I wrote here about one of those few child survivors, whom I identify in my post as "Miriam." And here, after that long introduction, is the inspirational poem, which had the kids asking me during the Seder, "Why are you crying, Mommy?"
I am a Jew I am a Jew and will be a Jew forever. Even if I should die from hunger, Never will I submit. I will always fight for my people, On my honor. I will never be ashamed of them, I give my word. I am proud of my people, How dignified they are. Even thought I am suppressed, I will always come back to life. --Franta Bass, 11 year old boy