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March 29, 1963 - Image 40

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1963-03-29

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS — Friday, March 29, 1963 - 40

To Save the Memory of the Six Million

"Let us never forget!" was the cry that re-
sounded among Jews when the cold-blooded murder
by Nazi Germany of Six Million of their kin became
known.
- Why Remember?
To remember with reverence and love was, they
felt, not only a debt which they owned their martyred
dead. It was also a duty they owed to themselves
and their posterity. For to remember means to face
stern realities -sternly, to reject soothing illusions,
to be warned and forewarned.
But memory, unaided, is elusive and unstable.
We don't remember because we are commanded or
exhorted to remember — not even because we have
resolved to remember. And this is especially true
of a painful memory. The proCess known in psy-
chology as repression sets in, and the memory sinks
into the limbo of the subconscious.
Modes of Remembering
It was a healthy instinct, therefore, that im-
pelled sensitive men and women to devise instru-
ments for keeping the memory alive. The list of
such aids is impressive. It includes .museums and
documentation centers, among which the Yad Vashem
in Jerusalem, the Yiv.o in New York and 'the - Con-
temporary Jewish Documentation Center in Paris
are the best known. It includes what has become
known as "catastrophe literature," embracing, among
other works, a sizable number of volumes in Yiddish
commemorating obliterated Jewish communities. It
includes the Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day
decreed by the Knesset .in 1959 and observed at
memorial meetings in larger Jewish centers. Monu-
ments have been erected in cemeteries, tablets have
been set up in institutions.
All of these instruments are, no doubt, useful
weapons in the struggle to remember. Nevertheless,
we owe it to the purpose to which they • are all
consecrated to appraise them realistically and objec-

By RUFUS LEARSI
Editor's Note: The author of this article, Rufus-
Learsi, one of the most distinguished American
Jewish historians, - essayists and anthologists, is
chairman of the Seder Ritual Committee in Renzenz-
brance of the Six Million Martyrs and Heroes of
the Ghetto Uprisings. It was under his inspiration
that this committee was formed, with headquarters
at 15 E. 84th St., New York 28,. and that the Seder
Ritual was written and introduced as part of the.
Seder services.

suggest they should be scrapped, .They _should, on
the contrary, be strengthened and multiplied. They
are serving a noble " and • useful purpose; • and • the
men and women who_ created them are entitled to
our esteem •and gratitude. Nevertheless, the sacred
Purpose they haye in common would be ill served
by nursing illusions about them, expecting more
from them than they can give.
.
The Seder Ritual of Remembrance
Is . there "a way .of remembering that does. meet
these tests?
There is, •and the principle on which it• is based
is the same one that has given strength and endur-
ance to all the crucial memories of the Jewish past.
It is the principle of enshrining a memory in ' a
recurrent observance and ritual, an observance that
defies the tooth of time and endears itself to the
masses of the people. •
The Seder Ritual of Remembrance meets these
tests. Linked as it is to •a millenial observance;• it
will save the memory of our martyrs and heroes. for
the generations to come as well as our own. The
Passover Seder, moreover, draws an exceptionally
large attendance, including a high proportion of our
young. The Ritual, therefore, will. preserve the
memory • not just for limited groups, but for the
great multitudes of our people.
The Ritual is brief but deeply moving, and
it lifts up the Seder to a new and exalted level.
It consists of a brief passage in Hebrew followed
by a rendition of it into English, and concludes
with the singing of Ani Maamin ("I Believe"), the
hymn with which many of the martyrs in the
liquidation camps went to their deaths.
In every sector of the community—Orthodox,
Conservative, Reform and unaffiliated—the Ritual is
gaining ever wider acceptance. It answers the need
in a manner that is instinctively felt to be fitting
and effective.

tively. That purpose is to save the memory from
repression and oblivion, to keep it alive and func-
tioning.
To save it not just for the few, but the many.
To save it not alone for ourselves of this day and
generation, but for the generations after us.
Two Tests
Each of the instruments cited and all others should,
therefore, be confronted with two tests and required
to meet them both:
One: Is the means in question valid only for
the short present, but for the long future also?
What, to use a well understood phrase, is its life
expectancy? .
Two: What is the extent of its impact? Does it
reach out and encompass the masses of our people,
or is its range restricted to limited groups?
Will any of the instruments listed above sustain
these tests? Museums and documentation centers
do not attract the multitudes. The memorial books
will gather dust on library shelves, their language
unfamiliar even to the progeny of their authors and
compilers:Memorial meetings on Remembrance Day
— a day generally unobserved — will not become
hackneyed features of a landscape, taken for granted
and unnoticed.
It should be emphasized that the proposed tests
are not meant to belittle those instruments or to

FOR THE SIX MILLION JEWS WHO PERISHED AT THE HANDS OF THE NAZIS
AND FOR THE HEROES OF THE GHETTO UPRISINGS

Perform this Ritual
after the THIRD of the Four Ceremonial Cups, .
just before the door is opened
for the symbolic entrance of the Prophet Elijah.

English

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All sing ANTI MAAMIN ("I Believe"),
the. song of the martyrs in the ghettos and liquidation camps:

r-Pt0E-1

being a people, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.
And they sleW the blameless and pure, men and women and little ones,
with vapors of poison and burned them with fire. But we abstain from
dwelling on the deeds of the evil ones lest we defame the image of God
in which man was created,

'n't?Ot? y'")y.7 .1:1 7111

Di, ripp1D {?

Hebrew:

On.this night of the Seder we remember with reverence and love the
six millions of our people of the European exile who perished at the
ha:Kis of a tyrant more wicked than the Pharaoh who enslaved our
fathers in Egypt. Come, said he to his minions, let us cut them off from

All rise,
and the leader of the Seder recites the following:

Irnti 1;i,`? p nu?tp:
ylr_r -vitt

rendition - of the

?

03

And from the depths of their affliction the martyrs lifted their voices
in a song of faith in the coming of the Messiah, when justice and
brotherhood will reign among men.

All sing ANI MAAMIN ("I Believe"),
the song of the martyrs in the ghettos and liquidation camp::

ri41 nt i'Pt2PP '?t,t

nR';;,

Now, the remnants of our people who were left in the ghettos and
camps of annihilation rose up against the wicked ones for the sanctifica-
tion of the Name, and slew many of them before they died. On the first
day of Passover the remnants in the Ghetto of Warsaw rose up against
the adversary, even as in the days of Judah the Maccabee. They were
lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not
divided, and they brought redemption to the name of Israel through
all the world.

'P t n.) r1t41

I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah:
And though he tarry, none the less do I believe!

AM MAAMIN

("I Believe")

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