This poem was written for a Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration event for teenagers that was based around replicating in miniature the Children’s Memorial at Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. One enters the children’s Memorial through a long corridor into a darkened room that consists of five memorial candles that are multiplied exponentially with the use of mirrors. These lights represent the one and a half million children murdered in the Holocaust. In the background the names of the children, their ages and country or origin are read continually.

 

1

And then there was light…
Reflections in a clear pool,
a mirror of delight.
Children playing like children do.
Children’s faces
loving, living, hoping,
smiling faces in a mirror
light years away –
or so it seems.

And then there was darkness…
A deep darkness and sounds of boots and sirens and broken glass.
A dark, deep pool with no seeming end;
a tunnel effect of evil called the Reich that would last
a thousand years.

For just telling the story
we must add light.
To complete the circle we must be the light.
Reflect the light with our own mirror of belief.
Remember with a candle
those who are no more,
asking silently –
could it happen again?

 

2

Did you hear the names?
the children’s names
and then the silence of the lambs
to the slaughter.
Do you hold their light?
Did you hear your name?

 

3

And how do we remember?
Build a museum?
See Schindlers List?
Paint a picture?
or a nightmare,
a fist,
a tear,
perhaps a candle
reflected in the mirror of Jewish commitment
of lifestyle,
of pride that screams and then prays –
make the light grow!
Reflect their silent names
in your name
in your light
in your reflection.

 

4

Could it have been different?
Would you have done differently?
And the question is raised:
why is this holocaust different from every other pogrom
inquisition, expulsion or massacre?
Is it the children you ask?
They had no choice this time –
not to flee or convert or beg for mercy.
One and a half million children –
enough stars to brighten the night.
But their innocence you ask?
One and a half million black holes
whose darkness now no light can penetrate –

unless its a spiritual light
and a promise to carry on
and on and on…

 

5

And today
is the world getting darker or lighter?
In a world of atomic energy
what is a small candle;
in a world of computer chips and the information highway
what is a name, a singular name,
and in a world of masks and throw away consciousness,
what is a mirror of truth?

And so we proclaim
with this candle –
we shall live.
And with these names –
we will remember.
And with these mirrors –
we will be the conscience of the world.

Did you hear your name?
If not –
you are alive!
Did you see the light –
then their memory lives on.
Did you see the mirrors –
then you are a reflection of God.
You are the light of the soul
of Israel reborn
and resurrected,
a young child
in our ancient homeland
whose light shines from Jerusalem –
Am Yisrael Chai!

And today
while the Reich lies buried in its own deep darkness
never to arise again,
let these lights bear witness
to us and our children yet to be born –
Am Yisrael Chai!