קִינָה עַל חֻרְבָּן הָאַחֲרוֹן | Lamentation on the Holocaust, by Shimon Zuker (1980)

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Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

הַזּוֹכֵר מַזְכִּירָיו,
דּוֹר דּוֹר וּקְדוֹשָׁיו,
מֵעֵת אֲשֶׁר אָז בְּחַרְתָּנוּ,
יִזְכּוֹר דֵּרָאוֹן, שֶׁל דּוֹר אַחֲרוֹן,
אוֹיָה מֶה הָיָה לָנוּ…
May the One who remembers those who were mindful of them,
each generation and its saintly martyrs
since the time You chose us––
remember the gruesome fate of the last generation.
Woe! What has befallen us!

שְׁטוּפֵי מַבּוּל־דָּם,
שֶׁמָּכְרוּ נַפְשׁוֹתָם,
כׇּל שְׁקוּעֵי עִמְקֵי־הַבָּכָא,
יִפְקְדֵם אֱלֹהִים, בְּאַרְצוֹת הַחַיִּים,
וַעֲדֵי עַד זִכְרָם לִבְרָכָה.
All those who were swept away by the flood of blood––
All those who sacrificed their lives
who drowned in the valley of tears,
May Elohim think of them in the lands of Eternal Life.
Forever may their memory be a blessing.

שְׂאוּ אֵלָיו כַּפַּיִם, אֲהָהּ, אֵי שָׁמַיִם,
הוֹי עַל מֵּיטַב שִׁבְטֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל,
עֵדוֹת וּקְהִלּוֹת, עָרִים וּגְלִילוֹת,
חֲבוּרוֹת, מוֹסָדוֹת, כׇּל מוֹעֲדֵי אֵל,
מִי יִתֵּן פַּלְגֵי מַיִם, תֵּרַדְנָה עֵינַיִם,
אֶל אַשְׁדוֹת נַחֲלֵי הַדְמָעוֹת,
עֲלִי אַלְפֵי אֲלֲפִים גּוּפִים נִשְׁרָפִים,
בְּמוֹ־אֵשׁ הַחֻרְבָּן וּזְוָעוֹת.
Lift your hands up to Him, woe O ye Heavens!
woe over the best of Yisrael’s tribes,
Communities and congregations, towns and districts,
fraternities, foundations and all the houses of worship.
I wished streams of water would pour out of my eyes
towards the waterfalls of the river of tears––
For the millions of cremated corpses,
consumed in the fires of destruction and horror.

וְעַל שֵׂרַי־הַתּוֹרָה, וּמַחֲזִיקֵי מָּסוֹרָה,
וְעַל פִּרְחֵי הַכְּהוּנָה הַצְּעִירִים,
וְעַל חוֹבְשֵׁי מִדְרָשׁוֹת, וּמוֹרִים וּמוֹרוֹת,
תִּינוֹקוֹת בֵּית־רַבָּן יַקִּירִים,
עַל בָּנוֹת בּוֹטְחוֹת. וְסָבִים וְסָבוֹת,
וְעַל זַרְעָם וְטַפָּם שֶׁיָלָדוּ,
וְגַם, לְרַבּוֹת, רִבְבוֹת נֶאֱהָבִים בַּחַיִּים,
בְּמוֹתָם לֹא נִפְרָדוּ.
For the princes of Torah, the pillars of Tradition,
for the young flowers of priestly children,
For the diligent scholars, the teachers of men and women,
and the precious youth attending schools,
The pious daughters, the old grandparents
and their offspring, the little infants just born––
Every one––thousands upon thousands, beloved in life,
whom death did not part.

אֶת דָּמָם דְּרוֹשׁ, כִּי תִשָּׂא אֶת רֹאשׁ,
שֶׁל כׇּל נִדָּף לֶעָלִים הַטְּרוּפִים,
כׇּל נַפְשׁוֹת־מֵת, בִּימֵי שֶׁבֶר וָשֵׁאת,
שִׁשָּׁה אַלְפֵי פְעָמִים אֲלָפִים,
שְׁלִישִיָּה לְבָעֵר, בִּבְרַק זַעֲם סוֹעֵר,
מִכַּרְמֵי הַחֶמֶד אָהָבְתָּ,
 
גּוֹאֵל הַדָּם,
נָא זֶכֶר צַעֲרָם,
אַל תִּמְחֶה מִסֵּפֶר כָּתָבְתָּ.
Search for their blood!
Take account of every driven leaf––
Of every life perished in the days of the shoah––
a total of six million dead.
Struck down by lightning that emerged from the furious storm
which devastated a full third of these, your cherished vineyards
that we know You did so dearly love.
O Avenger of blood!
Pray, do not erase the remembrance of their misery
from the book which You have written.

זְכוֹר הַנְּאָקוֹת, וְרַעֲשׁ צְעֲקוֹת,
אָז יוּבְלוּ לָרֶצַח,
יְאוֹרֵי דְמֵיהֶם, וְדִמְעוֹת פְּנֵיהֶם,
לֹא תִשָׁכַחְנָה לָנֶצַח,
כׇּל חִיל וּגְנִיחָה, וּנְהִי צְרִיחָה,
מִשְׁדוּדֵי לַהֲקוֹת הַכְּלָבִּים,
זְכוֹר וּסְפוֹר,
בְּנֹאדְךָ צְרוֹר,
עַד עֵת נְקֹם עֶלְבּוֹן עֲלוּבִים.
Remember every moan, every horrifying scream,
when they were herded for slaughter––
All the rivers of blood, all the tear-stained faces:
they must never be forgotten.
Every horror, every sigh, every piercing cry
from those torn asunder by hordes of vicious dogs.
Remember them and count them,
bind them into Your bundle,
Till the day that You avenge their utter degradation.

בְּמַחֲנוֹת הַפְּרָאִים,
כְּאֵב וּנְגָעִים,
וּפַחֵי נְפָשוֹת עֲגוּמוֹת,
חֲרָפוֹת וּצְחוֹק, כְּלִימוֹת וָרוֹק,
פִּצְעֵי הַכָּאוֹת אֲיֻּמּוֹת,
וּרְעָבוֹן, צִמָּאוֹן, שִׁגָּעוֹן, עִצָּבוֹן,
וְכִשְׁלוֹן נֶחֱשָלִים בְּלִי־כֹחַ,
וְכׇל נַאֲקוֹת־חָלָל, מִכׇּל יָחִיד אֻמְלָל,
חָלִילָה לְךָ מִלִּשְׁכֹּחַ.
In the camp of the barbarian:
pain and sickness,
the anguish of mortified souls,
Insults and scoffing, shame and spit––
searing wounds from merciless beatings––
Hunger and thirst, insanity and torture––
stumbling of the faint whose strength was gone.
Every death-rattle of every single one of them, perishing in agony––
O, far be it from You that this ever be forgotten.

וְתִימְרוֹת־עָשָׁן
וְקִיטוֹר מִכִּבְשָׁן,
תִּלֵּי־תִלִּים עֲצָמוֹת וְגִידִים,
וְחַדְרֵי הָרַעֲל,
קוֹל שְׁאָגוֹת מִקְּהַל־הַנֶּחְנָקִים
תּוֹךְ תָּאֵי הָאֵדִים,
וְסִרְחוֹן גּוּפוֹת,
וּגְוִיּוֹת סְגוּפוֹת,
גְלַל־דֹּמֶן אַדְמַת נוֹאֲצִים,
אֵיךְ הָפְכוּ טוֹרְפֵיהֶם,
לְבֹרִית חֶלְבֵיהֶם,
וְעוֹר־אִישׁ לְקִשּׁוּטֵי הַנָּשִׁים.
And the smokestacks––
heavy smoke from the furnaces,
Piles and piles of bones and limbs––
halls of poison,
The roaring noise from the multitude,
suffocating in the gas chambers––
The stench of the bodies––
the emaciated corpses––
fertilizers for the soil of the frivolous;
And how the tormentors
turned human fat into soap
And their skin into decorations for their womenfolk.

וּקְרִיצַת אֶצְבָּעוֹת,
שֶׁל רׇאשֵׁי־הַפְּרָעוֹת,
לִימִין שִׁעְבּוּד־פֶּרַךְ,
צַלְמָוֶת לִשְׂמאוֹל,
וְאֵיךְ יָרוּ יְרִיּוֹת
עַל חוֹפְרֵי הַבּוֹרוֹת,
בְּיִסּוּרֵי חִבּוּט־קֶבֶר הוֹרִדוּם שְׁאוֹל,
אֵיךְ עִנּוּ אַחְיוֹתֵינוּ,
וְסֵרְסוּ בְּנוֹתֵינוּ,
כּוֹסוֹת־תַּרְעֵלָה מִיְדֵי רוֹפְאִים אַכְזָרִים,
וּפְלִיטֵי הַשְּׂרִידִים בִּמְחִלּוֹת וּסְתָרִים,
וְטִמָיוֹן יְלָדִים בְּבָתֵּי שְׁמַד־כְּמָרִים.
Remember the savage leaders
pointing their fingers––
To the right: slave labor!––
to the left: the shadow of death!
When the sharpshooters felled the ones,
digging their own graves––
to be buried still writhing in agony.
And––how they raped our sisters––
mutilated our daughters––
poisoned medicine from cruel doctors,
Fugitives in holes and hide-outs,
Their children abandoned in idolatrous homes.

שֶׂה־תָמִים לָעוֹלָה,
דַם בְּנֵי הַגּוֹלָה,
הוֹי אֲרֵיאַל מִנִּבְלַת חֲסִידֶיךָ
צֹאן־קָדָשִׁים מִי יִמְנֶה,
אֲשֶׁר אִשָּׁם
לֹא תִכְבֶּה,
בְּחוּנֶיךָ הָיוּ
מְקַדְּשֵׁי שְׁמֶךָ,
בְּקוֹל שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל
מָסְרוּ נֶפֶשׁ לָאֵל,
שֶׁהוּא יַאַסְפֵם,
וְעַד יוֹם אַחֲרוֹן הִצְדִיקוּ דִין,
וְאַף אֲנִי מַאֲמִין עָנוּ, וְשָׁרוּ שִׁירַת בִּטָּחוֹן.
Sheep without blemish––
the blood of our captive children,
offered upon the mighty altar; woe!
It was your loving servants’ lifeless flesh;
Who could count the saintly flock?
May their fire never go out,
For they stood your test––
they were Sanctifiers of your Name.
They, who with the cry of “Sh’ma Yisroel!”
gave up their lives for El,
so that He may gather them in.
Until the very last believing in His justice,
singing aloud the song of faith “Ani ma’amin.”

וּבְכֵן נִשְׁאַר עָם,
כְּיָתוֹם נִדְהָם,
בְּלִי קְבָרִים לְהָשְׁתַּטֵּחַ, וְלֹא מַצֵּבוֹת,
אֵיפֹה לִבְכּוֹת,
יְבָבוֹת לֵבָב רוֹתֵחַ,
רַק נִסְכֵי־הַדָּם, אַזְכָּרוֹתָם,
תּוֹסְסִים בְּלִי שׁוֹכֵחַ,
וְהָרֵי אֶפְרֵי עֲקֵדָתָם,
תְּרוּמוֹת דִּשְׁנֵי מִזְבֵּחַ.
What is left now: a people,
bewildered like orphans––
no grave to pray at––No tombstones
to pour out the tears of our sacred hearts.
Their sacrificial blood is their memorial––
the blood which will forever be boiling,
Which will never be forgotten;
and the mountains of ashes from their “Aqedah,”
all the ash-piles at the altars,
these shall be their lasting tribute.

מִי יְמַלֵּל, צַעֲר יִשְׂרָאֵל,
אֲשֶׁר דַּעְתּוֹ מִכְּאֵב נִטְרֶפֶת,
וּשְׁאֵרִית הַפְּאֵר, כִּמְעַט מִזְּעֵיר,
וְאֵיךְ קוֹמָתָה הַיּוֹם נִכְפָפֶת,
אֵל חַי מְרַחֵם,
עֲדָתְךָ נַחֵם אֲשֶׁר לְךָ מְאֹד נִכְסֶפֶת,
אוֹר־חָדָשׁ תַּזְרִיחַ,
קַרְנֵי־הוֹד תַּצְמִיחַ,
וְרוּחַ אֱלֹהִים
מְרַחָפֶת.
Who could express Yisrael’s torment,
its mind disturbed by misery––
What’s left of its shine reduced to tiny bits;
its greatness sorely crushed today.
O living El! O merciful One!
Comfort your congregation which yearns so much for you.
Cause a new light to shine forth,
let rays of glory glow.
And may the sacred spirit of Elohim
once more rest upon us.

“Lamentation for the Holocaust” was first published in the epilogue of The Unconquerable Spirit: Vignettes of the Jewish Religious Spirit that the Nazis Could Not Destroy compiled by Simon Zuker (also Zucker), translated by Gertrude Hirschler (Zachor Institute 1980), p.143-157. In the transcription above, I have Hebraized divine names and replaced archaisms (e.g. thee, thy and thou). I have also changed some of the translation in order to render some of Hirschler’s god-language gender-neutral. –Aharon Varady

A note as to the copyright of this work. The Zachor Institute no longer exists (as far as we can tell), and thus this work is subject to copyright as an “orphan work.” Our policy concerning orphan works is to do our best to help keep them accessible for creative reuse under the Fair Use provision of copyright until their copyright term expires and they enter the Public Domain.

Len Fellman transtropilized this work, cantillizing Hirschler’s English translation. Fellman writes, “this lamentation (while describing pretty brutal stuff) show not a trace of bitterness or anger, and while acknowledging God’s presence (and calling on God to witness the experience), assigns no blame to God whatsoever. It’s just pure grief and love; even trust. This what I find so amazing about this piece.”

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