web analytics
October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



A Dark Purim

A Dark Purim

This is a picture of children at a Purim celebration in Wieliczka Ghetto, 1942 (source: Remember Jewish Klasno, Lednica, and Wieliczka – Genealogy Group).

What did it feel like, to be reading about the failed plot to annihilate all the Jews, while outside a new, bigger and more ominous plot was raging? I can’t begin to imagine. I look at the faces of the children and not one of them looks even slightly amused, never mind happy or joyous.

Here’s another picture from the same source, a Purim play. Almost no one is as much as smiling, except for the kid in the front row who turned around, spotted the camera and flashed a conditioned reflex kind of smile.

5353_208

Curiously, the intimate, curious, introspective examination of Holocaust is often taboo to those who were not affected by it personally. Perhaps they are filled with shame and dread, because they survived, living in relative comfort, while millions of their brethren perished. U.S. Jews were able to do so little for European Jews at the time, and they were understandably terrified of the possibility—not entirely outlandish—that the Holocaust could spread across the ocean.

Those of us who were directly affected by the Holocaust—I was born in 1954 into a world with virtually no relatives, only ghosts, stories, bits and flashes of a reality long dead, gleaned from my father’s memories—have no problem whatsoever dealing with the Holocaust in every aspect and manner. I own my being the son of a survivor, and I own the right to deal with it using artistic tools and to try and figure it out, one slow day at a time.

As a religious Jew, I definitely own the right to ask God every day why He took my family of pure souls, Ger Chossids, who never strayed from the path, and destroyed them in such a despicable way. I wonder about the religiosity of Jews who don’t, who pretend the Holocaust was somehow against the will of God, who ignore the existential challenge of it so they can stick to a kind of gefilte fish Judaism.

I brace myself and stare into the faces of these children to see among them my father’s seven brothers and sisters. Soon, I am able to see myself in this bunch, which is the apex of the artistic experience.

Has the Purim miracle set our expectations too high?

I sense the tension of the little actors onstage, reciting their lines, laboring not to interrupt one another, to come in on cue. I sense the constant, dim fear in the eyes of the children staring at the lens, not sure whether it even makes sense to feel hope at this point. It’s the spring of 1942 in Poland, everybody knows this will not end well.

I’ve experienced in my life being in the kind of mourning where a smile was just to hard to generate. But that was always a private affair. To see fifty children unable to produce a smile breaks my heart.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “A Dark Purim”

  1. Rubin Katz says:

    Mr Yanover, to a survivor from Poland, your article is beyond moving and the photos most poignant. At Purim 1942 I was in a similar ghetto, I was 10 years old. My father who did not survive, was also an admirer of the Gerer Rebbe, though he was active in the Mizrachi movement (Religious Zionists). As you live in Israel, I urge you to look up the book review in the February ESRA magazine. My Memoir, Gone to Pitchipoi got a glowing review by Carl Hoffman.

  2. Rubin Katz says:

    Mr Yanover, to a survivor from Poland, your article is beyond moving and the photos most poignant. At Purim 1942 I was in a similar ghetto, I was 10 years old. My father who did not survive, was also an admirer of the Gerer Rebbe, though he was active in the Mizrachi movement (Religious Zionists). As you live in Israel, I urge you to look up the book review in the February ESRA magazine. My Memoir, Gone to Pitchipoi got a glowing review by Carl Hoffman.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Car Smashed in A-Tur
4 Women Survive Near Lynch on Mount of Olives
Latest News Stories
Car Smashed in A-Tur

A woman and three girls miraculously escaped an Arab lynch mob on Thursday afternoon while driving through the Jerusalem A-Tur neighborhood on the Mount of Olives.

Israeli PM Netanyahu and US Pres. Obama met in the Oval Office on Oct. 1, 2014.

The subtext in an Obama and Netanyahu press conference continues to be a disagreement over the role of Iran.

Jan Morgan, owner of the Gun Cave Indoor Shooting Range.

“How then, can anyone say that, the practice of Islam is protected by the U.S. Constitution?”

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat puts cement on the official cornerstone celebrating the reopening of the Tiferet Israel Synagogue in Jerusalem's Old City.

Why doesn’t Obama also label Jerusalem Arabs as “illegitimate settlers?”

Israel’s President Ruby Rivlin recites Slichot, the prayers for forgiveness that are said leading up to Yom Kippur. This slichot prayer session was held at the President’s official residence. Speaking of presidential pardons, it would be good if this were the year that Jonathan Pollard was let free.

American university campuses have become fertile ground for seeds of evil.

Letter of protest charges SJP with “harassing and intimidating Jewish students.”

Biden’s new national security adviser dissed Israel in the Democratic party platform and mocks Iran’s danger.

PA leader Abbas demands UN force Israel back to 1949 Armistice Line by Nov. 2016.

Car fires are car fires,” said the Atlantic City fire chief. But the car was parked!

US admits its ‘no-strike if any civilians might be hit’ policy does not apply to its airstrikes against ISIS.

Israeli police revealed on September 30 that they are now investigating the possibility that a fellow Arab worker may have cut the cable that held Arami as he was doing exterior work on a building.

A 14-year-old Dutch Muslim high school student is suspended after posting a video saying he is “from ISIS” and wants to “behead Jews.”

PM Netanyahu and US Pres. Obama met Wednesday evening for 75 minutes at the White House in Washington DC.

Israel talks with building blocks. The Palestinian Authority throws them.

More Articles from Yori Yanover
rain ATM

A Jerusalem woman is trying to hold on to her umbrella while withdrawing some cash at a Meah Shearim ATM, Sunday, March 9, 2014. The rain appeared out of the blue (which is how rain should), after a warm week that started to feel like summer. Well, it don’t feel like summer no more. Last […]

Rabbi Meir Mazuz (seen visiting a synagogue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn) declared in a public Internet psak that it is legal for a Jew to go up to temple Mount.

Needless to say, Shas, the Haredi Sefardi party, is not happy.

“The only difference between this world and the time of Meshiach is our bondage to the gentile kingdoms.”

Here’s the Israeli Navy boat INS Hanit arriving in Eilat on Saturday, March 8, 2014, after capturing the Klos C, which was carrying dozens of advanced Iranian-supplied weapons made in Syria and intended for Palestinian guerrillas in the Gaza Strip. Here’s Israeli Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ram Rotberg speaking with the INS Hanit soldiers in […]

Pat Condell has a new video out, so, sit back, have fun. By the way, Message to Offended Muslims should not be confused with Message to Off Handed Muslims. Also, I’d love to hear what he has to say about Haredim.

The description that came with this picture says: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with American actor Bette Midler during an event at the house of Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan in Hollywood on March 6, 2014. But Bette Midler is not really an actor, she’s a singer who made movies for the LGBT community and […]

We will shut them up in the campuses, we will shut them up in the high schools, we will shut them up at the 92nd St. Y.

An Israeli female soldier (because they’re better at removing babies from their homes) evacuates a baby from a settlement in Judea and Samaria some time in the recent past. I’m thinking, if the baby was angry enough, couldn’t he evacuate in return, right there in her arms? Imagine the same picture, except with a settler […]

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/photos/a-dark-purim/2013/02/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: