Yom HaShoah Holocaust Memorial Commemoration
Joint with Hollywood Temple Beth El and the Iranian American Jewish Federation
Dr. Isaac Norman greeted all of us on behalf of Iranian American Jewish Federation
I gave the following brief remarks:
“84 years have gone by since Hitler and his henchmen took over Germany. It has been 80 years, almost to this date, that my father was released from his first imprisonment under the Nazis in 1937. It has been 75 years since my grandmother was killed in the sand hills outside Lwow. It has been that many years since our friend, Barbara Drotow, was orphaned and on her way to Soviet exile. It has been 72 years since our friend Joe Alexander was liberated from Dachau . You would think that there is nothing new to discover after so many years. Yet there is no end of discovery.
When was knowledge of the Holocaust made known to the leaders of the Allied Forces? In January of 1945, when Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviet forces or April of that same year, as the war ended, when American forces entered Dachau and liberated Joe ?
This bombshell was released just a few days ago: here is one report, from the UK Indpendent:
“The Allied Powers were aware of the scale of the Jewish Holocaust two-and-a-half years earlier than is generally assumed, and had even prepared war crimes indictments against Adolf Hitler and his top Nazi commanders.
Newly accessed material from the United Nations – not seen for around 70 years – shows that as early as December 1942, the US, UK and Soviet governments were aware that at least two million Jews had been murdered and a further five million were at risk of being killed, and were preparing charges. Despite this, the Allied Powers did very little to try and rescue or provide sanctuary to those in mortal danger.”
No longer can it be denied that the world did not know. As we see, tragically, Jews were, and are , expendable.
It is with this thought in mind, that I recall the action of the great Russian poet, Yevgeny Yevtuschenko, who passed away just a few weeks ago. He defied authorities in the Soviet Union when it was very dangerous to do so and penned his poem, Babi Yar, in 1961. He was the first brave soul in the Soviet Union to call upon the Russian people to recognize that it was Jews who were specifically singled out for mass extermination.
Babi Yar ravine was the site of one of many mass killings of Jews by German Einsatzgruppen, death squads. The Nazis were amazed at how quickly these troops could kill , almost 1 and ½ million in a very short time. This is the fact that the Allied Forces knew very well that was the core point of the news release I just mentioned. In a similar manner, my grandmother, Helena Gottdenker, was among those rounded up and killed in a similar “ Aktion” at the ravine outside Lwow.”

Dr. Vladimir Melamed, Head of Archives at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, read the poem for us, in Russian and English translation and commented on the way that the poet imagined himself as a Jew, denounced anti-Semitism, and declared “ There is no Jewish blood in me/But hated with disgust by all Anti Semites /I am the Jew/And this is why I am a real Russian “
( This became the theme of Dmitri Shostakovich's “Thirteenth Symphony”, which you can hear on this link: )
Barbara Drotow sang a Yiddish song of a mother who must send her child off into hiding from the Nazis. I concluded with a blessing for our survivors, and El Maleh and Kaddish for our martyrs.
Text of Babi Yar- English

No monuments stand over Babii Yar
A steep cliff only like a rough headstone
I am fearful
Today I as old as the very Jewish nation

I believe I am an Israelite
Here I am wandering in ancient Egypt
And here I am crucified and vanishing
I bear marks of nails even now

I feel that Dreyfus it is me
The philistines spy on me
A philistine is my judge
I am behind the bars and I under siege
I am persecuted, slandered, degraded
Dainty dollies in Brussels frills
Squeal as they stab umbrellas at my face

I see myself a boy in Bialystok
Blood spills and runs upon the floors
The chiefs of a bar-counter are raging unimpeded
They reek of onion and vodka, half in half

Thrown out by a boot I left with no strength
I beg the mob in vain
For they yell, to kill the Jews, to save Russia
My mother is being raped by a storekeeper

My Russian people you are tolerant and kind
But often times the dirty hands
Shield themselves by your honest name
Remarkable the Russian kindness is
And more despicable become antisemites
Who claim Russians themselves
Who call themselves the Union of Russian People

It seems to me that I am Anna Frank
Transparent as a small tree branch in April
I am in love
And no words are needed
We only need to gaze into each other eyes
How little one can see or even sense

Leaves are denied to us and so is the sky
But much is still allowed – very gently
In darkened room each other to embrace

“They come”

Fear not, those are sounds
It is a spring that is coming soon
You come to me, I need your lips
They break the door
No, it is the breaking ice
Wild grasses rustle over Babii Yar
The trees look sternly as if passing judgement
It is a silent scream
And hat in hand
I feel my hair slowly becoming grey

And I myself as this soundless scream
Above of thousands of thousands interred
I am the every old man murdered here
I am the every child murdered here

I am remembering all that forever
Let the Internationale * thunder over
When the last antisemite on the Earth is gone

There is no Jewish blood in me
But hated with disgust by all antisemites
I am the Jew
And this is why I am a real Russian

*Internationale- International Song of Revolution, dating to the Paris commune of 1871

Russian original
Над Бабьим Яром памятников нет.
Крутой обрыв, как грубое надгробье.
Мне страшно.
Мне сегодня столько лет,
как самому еврейскому народу.

Мне кажется сейчас –
я иудей.
Вот я бреду по древнему Египту.
А вот я, на кресте распятый, гибну,
и до сих пор на мне – следы гвоздей.

Мне кажется, что Дрейфус –
это я.
Мещанство –
мой доносчик и судья.
Я за решеткой.
Я попал в кольцо.
И дамочки с брюссельскими оборками,
визжа, зонтами тычут мне в лицо.

Мне кажется –
я мальчик в Белостоке.
Кровь льется, растекаясь по полам.
Бесчинствуют вожди трактирной стойки
и пахнут водкой с луком пополам.
Я, сапогом отброшенный, бессилен.
Напрасно я погромщиков молю.
Под гогот:
"Бей жидов, спасай Россию!"-
насилует лабазник мать мою.

О, русский мой народ! -
Я знаю –
По сущности интернационален.
Но часто те, чьи руки нечисты,
твоим чистейшим именем бряцали.
Я знаю доброту твоей земли.
Как подло,
что, и жилочкой не дрогнув,
антисемиты пышно нарекли
себя "Союзом русского народа"!

Мне кажется –
я – это Анна Франк,
как веточка в апреле.
И я люблю.
И мне не надо фраз.
Мне надо,
чтоб друг в друга мы смотрели.

Как мало можно видеть,
Нельзя нам листьев
и нельзя нам неба.
Но можно очень много –
это нежно
друг друга в темной комнате обнять.

Сюда идут?
Не бойся — это гулы
самой весны –
она сюда идет.
Иди ко мне.
Дай мне скорее губы.
Ломают дверь?
Нет – это ледоход...

Над Бабьим Яром шелест диких трав.
Деревья смотрят грозно,
Все молча здесь кричит,
и, шапку сняв,
я чувствую,
как медленно седею.

И сам я,
как сплошной беззвучный крик,
над тысячами тысяч погребенных.
Я –
каждый здесь расстрелянный старик.
Я –
каждый здесь расстрелянный ребенок.

Ничто во мне
про это не забудет!
пусть прогремит,
когда навеки похоронен будет
последний на земле антисемит.

Еврейской крови нет в крови моей.
Но ненавистен злобой заскорузлой
я всем антисемитам,
как еврей,
и потому –
я настоящий русский!
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Just today, I passed a group of Armenians on their way to a rally in commemoration of the Armenian genocide by the Turks during WWI.This year, it falls on the same day that Jews commemorate the Holocaust. We dare not be silent about genocide then or now, lest we prove Hitler right:
"Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?"
[August 22, 1939]
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Hollywood Temple Beth El shared Friends of the Israel Defense Forces - Western Region, LA Chapter's event. ... See MoreSee Less

Yom Hazikaron Community Wide Night of Remembrance

April 30, 2017, 4:30pm - April 30, 2017, 6:30pm

Friends of the IDF and Beverly Hills Temple of the Arts at the Saban Theatre, present YOM HAZIKARON COMMUNITY WIDE NIGHT OF REMEMBRANCE Join us for the third annual Night of Remembrance as we stand t...

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Hollywood Temple Beth El is one of the oldest and most well known synagogues in Los Angeles. In the past, it has included illustrious members of the entertainment world including Louis B. Mayer, Edward G. Robinson, and Max Factor, founder of the cosmetic empire.Since 1998, we have been home to two congregations: one American (Ashkenazic) and one Persian. From time to time we have joint services.Today we have members from all over the world with an emphasis on Eastern Europeans, many of whom are Holocaust survivors and their children.We are an egalitarian congregation and knowledgeable members are encouraged to lead various parts of the service. Those who wish to learn are welcome to join us on Shabbat mornings when Rabbi Weinberg teaches about the Torah and Judaism. The Rabbi conducts Bar and Bat Mitzvah instruction for children and adults. Keep in touch with us for upcoming concerts and our monthly Friday night Shabbat Service. We are looking forward to seeing you soon.