Greetings on the occasion of the annual "Warsaw Ghetto Uprising" commemoration, 1971

April 18, 1971 / Nisan 23, 5731


The week of Pesach, the festival of our liberation is over.

Today is the ninth day of the counting of the omer which we will continue another forty days until

Shavuot: the celebration of our receiving the Torah.

During the period between these two ancient holidays we commemorate the occurrence of two recent events.

Yom ha'Shoah-the day of the Holocaust

Yom ha'Atzmaut-the independence of the State of Israel

In this context




Our liberation from slavery is symbolically complete;

wandering now in that chaotic period immediately following the winning of our freedom,

we are faced with the devastation of one of our largest and most creative communities.

We have returned to our oasis and have begun digging wells resolving never to be set adrift in the sands again.

The winds around us are turbulent and the risen dust clouds our way.

We have not yet received our Law and although we are liberated, we are not at peace.

This week (Shavua ha'Shoah) the scar that remains from our experience with Europe,

glows bright as we heighten our awareness of the Nazi horrors, Christian complicity and our own cowering silence.


"I only followed orders" was the answer:

as they drove their chariots after us into the mud,

as they aimed their artillery at our decimated bastions in Warsaw:

and as the waters of the sea flood over them we do not rejoice.

And today we cry out as our host nation strays deeper into the jungle sucked in by the mud:

Obeying orders.

To resist!

the struggle against all odds

that defiance

in the midst of the passivity

of not "causing trouble"


Today one quarter of our people

brothers and sisters

are in turmoil and doubt as their host becomes more repressive.

A handful of them, aware of our interwoven future have resolved to cause trouble.

Our host and theirs strain to reach an accord.

That oasis we share and dream of is the fulcrum of their antagonism

And we, aware of our impotence, scream and shout

if for no other reason than to say to our children:

we were not silent.


We have been guests all over the world and have learned that a host does as it pleases.

In our oasis the wells are dug and irrigation has begun.

Only when we are planted in its fertile soil will we blossom, bring forth fruit and flourish.

Our contemporary resistance is not limited to firing small arms smuggled in through sewers,

but offers us opportunities for harvesting fruits and reaping fields.

This struggle shapes our Way through the wilderness

till that time when the pine and cypress tress we plant

will shade their own seedlings growing wild in the replanted forests:

We will be secure in our Law and sustained in peace.

Greetings "from the 'youth'" offered at the annual "Warsaw Ghetto Uprising" commemoration event sponsored by the Jewish Federation-Council of Greater Los Angeles, April 18, 1971, at Temple Israel of Hollywood. First published in Davka Volume 1, Number 4; Summer 1971.

© Mark Hurvitz

April 25, 1997