A Poem on Yom HaShoah

Last night, OJC experienced a particularly emotional Sonia and Israel Neiman Shoah Memorial Project as we learned with Dan Grunfeld, author of By the Grace of the Game. Dan presented the inspiring story of his family’s Holocaust legacy and the trajectory of his father, the great Ernie Grunfeld of NY Knicks fame. He shared the tragic lessons of the Shoah together with his anyu’s (grandmother’s) lesson for life: Have hope!

At the beginning of the program, Rabbi Scheff read a poem that I wrote for the day. I share it here now.

She Read the News Every Day

She read the news every day.
On Shabbes, it was all they talked about.
Still, on Sunday morning she took the baby early so her daughter-in-law could sleep late
They built towers of blocks and she showed him how to make a house with playing cards
At night she made a big dinner for all of them
And they ate merrily, laughing and loud, as always.

He listened to the radio each night as he enjoyed his cigar.
It was all they talked about in the cafés and restaurants where he met clients for lunch.
Still, every morning, he knotted his tie just so, matching his pocket square to the exact shade of blue
He carried the leather brief bag with his initials on the side and enjoyed the blossoming trees on his short walk to the office
Coming home to his family, and his wife’s cooking, where he presided at the head of the table.

Until they didn’t.

Some were able to buy their way out.
Some hid in unthinkable circumstances.
Some went out to work and never came home.
Some were awakened in the middle of the night and shoved onto the street.

And we, in our hubris, hold them responsible.

We would have left sooner, we are sure.
We would have understood the signs and saved our families.

I am not so sure anymore.

I read the news and talk in the cafés
And still I wake early with the baby to let my daughter-in-law sleep late.
I cook a large dinner, and we eat merrily.

Rabbi Paula Mack Drill


6 responses to “A Poem on Yom HaShoah”

  1. Sandra Stulberg says :

    I cried as I read this beautiful poem. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Suzy Trestyn says :

    It was a beautiful poem Rabbi Drill. It was also very moving, especially because my family lived in Nazi Germany. A lot of history.

  3. Penny says :

    I read the poem 2 days ago and so touched that I can’t stop thinking about it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, emotions and talent.

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