Monday, May 2, 2011

The Family Observance of Yom HaShoah

Today Holocaust survivors Judith Steel, Ruth Gruener, Thea Gottesmann, Edith Rosenbaum, Jack Gruener, and Sol Rosenkranz lit candles in memory of those who perished in the Holocaust. They were joined by High School Apprentices who read statements of remembrance written by Gallery Educator and Holocaust Survivor Norbert Friedman. This solemn observance, attended by Museum staff and a few guests, is a very private moment in an otherwise public space. Following the candle lighting, intern and cantorial student Israel Gordon chanted El Maleh Rachamim, a prayer for the departed. It was absolutely beautiful, and you could almost feel that this “plea of the soul” was reaching heaven.

The staff also sang the haunting Eli, Eli by Hannah Senesh. Listen to the melody here if you want to sing the words.

Eli, Eli, shelo yigamer l’olam:
Hachol v’hayam, rishrush shel hamayim,
B’rak hashamayim, t’filat ha’adam.

Oh Lord, my God, I pray that these things never end:
The sand and the sea, the rush of the waters
The crash of the heavens, the prayer of the heart.

After the ceremony many of our candle lighters were in the galleries talking to students and other visitors about their experiences during the Holocaust. I listened to Salomea Kape describe life in the ghetto to a group of high school students. Witnessing illness and death, taking care of parents, young people became adults fast, she told us. But when she was in school, it was the only time she could be a child. She went on to show us a report card. I didn’t get to examine it closely, but I am willing to bet she received excellent grades. I am grateful each year for the opportunity to be with the Museum Family on this day.

Pictured above are Sol Rosenkranz, center, High School Apprentice Sarah Broughton, and Sol’s daughter Rita.

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