Songs and Prayers for Observing Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day
For El Male Rachamim
Listen to the liturgy. El Male Rachamim (God full of compassion) is a prayer for the departed that is recited at funeral services which asks for comfort and everlasting care of the deceased. Different versions exist for different moments, and the one for the Shoah, is chanted below and can be found on p. 530 of Mishkan Tefilah. It is translated beautifully as:
Fully Compassionate God on high:
To our six million brothers and sisters
murdered because they were Jews,
grant clear and certain rest with You
in the lofty heights of the sacred and pure
whose brightness shines like the very glow of heaven.
Source of mercy:
Forever enfold them in the embrace of Your wings;
secure their souls in eternity.
Adonai: they are Yours.
They will rest in peace.
For Kaddish with Names
Listen to the reading. A liturgical addition since the Shoah (Holocaust) which can be found in many Reform and Conservative prayerbooks is what some refer to as the Camp’s Kaddish or the Holocaust Kaddish, which juxtaposes the traditional Aramaic text of Kaddish with the names of the concentration camps and ghettos where massacres occurred. There are a few versions with slight differences. This recitation is from Elie Wiesel and is found in Mishkan Tefilah on p. 533.
Zog Nit Keyn Mol (The Partisan’s Song)
Listen to the song. This Yiddish song is considered one of the anthems of Holocaust survivors. The lyrics were written in 1943 by Hirsh Glick, a young Jewish inmate of the Vilna Ghetto. He was inspired to write the song by news of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943.
The title means "Never Say", and derives from the first line of the song. Glick's lyrics were set to music from a pre-war Soviet song written by Dmitri and Daniel Pokrass. During the war “Zog nit keyn mol” became a symbol of resistance against Nazi Germany’s persecution of the Jews and was adopted by many partisan groups around Eastern Europe.
Eili Eili - Halicha l’kesariya (My God, My God – Walk to Caesaria)
Listen to the song. Hannah Szenes (July 17, 1921 November 7, 1944) was a Hungarian Jew, who emigrated to Palestine, now Israel, in 1939, and was one of 37 Jews who were trained by the British army to parachute into Yugoslavia during the Second World War in order to help save the Jews of Hungary, who were about to be deported to the German death camp at Auschwitz.
Szenes was arrested at the Hungarian border, imprisoned and tortured, but she refused to reveal details of her mission and was eventually tried and executed by firing squad on November 7, 1944. She is regarded as a national heroine in Israel.
Hannah kept diary entries, was a poet and playwright and one of more well-known poems, Eili Eili (My God, My God) was set to music by David Zahavi.