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Saturday, 19 August 2017

My teen and I visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum last week. Just a few days after a deadly white supremacist march in our neighboring state of Virginia, it was healing to see hundreds of people in the museum’s galleries, learning about how the politics of hate can infect and impact a society. (Read the USHMM’s response to Charlottesville.)

I was especially moved by the Yiddish poetry of resistance. Some of these poems survived the Nazi genocide of European Jews.

My own Jewish family left France, Romania, and Germany in the early 20th century and immigrated to the United States. Though they were all in the U.S. by the 1920s, I wonder about extended family — aunts, uncles, cousins, who stayed behind.

This poem is giving me hope today.

For Not Lost Is the Hope

By Yitshok Katsenelson
Yiddish to English translation by Dr. Sarah Moskovitz

For not lost is the hope of a tree,
even when already cut and felled
it grows again
and blooms
without an end—
The sprouting will not stop.

And when the root gets old amid the dust
and if
the root has ceased
to live deep in the earth—

it only has to sense a bit of water in the depths
to bloom again…

Read the rest at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website.

For more poetry of the Holocaust, visit Poetry in Hell: Warsaw Ghetto Poems from the Ringelblum Archives.

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Laura Shovan

Laura Shovan is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Her second book, Takedown, is a Junior Library Guild and PJ Our Way selection. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a poet-in-the-schools Maryland.

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