Please watch this short video and join an inspiring project:
From World ORT:
With each Yom HaShoah the number of Survivors dwindles making the challenge of engaging new generations more difficult and more urgent. But Australian film maker Eli Rabinowitz has found a way – and it’s inspired ORT students across the Former Soviet Union.
Eli has started an international push to popularise the partisan song Zog Nit Keynmol by linking ORT and non-ORT schools in an online programme to not only learn its Yiddish – or Hebrew – words but also to delve into its meaning and historical significance and to share what they learn.
The result has moved groups of students at World ORT schools in Kiev, Odessa, Kishinev, Vilnius, Chernivtsi, Tallinn, Moscow, Kazan, Samara and Mexico to prepare videos for Yom HaShoah singing the anthem written by the Vilna poet Hirsh Glik to a melody by the Soviet-Jewish composer Dimitri Pokrass.
“This is a powerful statement and shows that we can link the generations this way,” South Africa-born Eli said. “How many Survivors will be with us next year? Let’s honour them and their legacy. Yom HaShoah is such a significant day for them and for our youth – for all of us! We are all survivors!”
With Fania Brancovskaja, survivor, Vilnius, Lithuania
ZOG NIT KEYNMOL Poem by Hirsh Glik 1943
With words by Hirsh Glik and music by Dmitri and Daniel Pokrass, “Zog Nit Keynmol” became the anthem of the Jewish underground resistance movement in World War II. Hirsh Glik’s lyrics were combined with a march melody from the 1938 Soviet film Son of the Working People to create the inspiring song “Zog Nit Keynmol.” Following the end of World War II “Zog Nit Keynmol” has frequently been sung at Holocaust commemorations worldwide, particularly on Yom Hashoah.
The words to “Zog Nit Keynmol” reflect the author’s strong belief in Jewish armed resistance to Nazi oppression. Like many other partisan songs, “Zog Nit Keynmol” served to reinforce Jewish identity and maintain camaraderie in an environment where heroism was required and death was commonplace. Refusing to admit defeat or accept the possibility that Jewish life in Europe was doomed, the song’s lyrics are defiant and optimistic.
Knowing that Jewish communities in Eastern Europe were being destroyed all around them, Jewish partisans employed armed resistance to oppose Nazism. Glik’s lyrics to “Zog Nit Keynmol” helped to sustain the partisans as they risked their lives while forging another link in the long tradition of Jewish poetry dedicated to maintaining unity against hostile outside forces.
—William R. Ferneke
With teachers and students at Solomo Aleichemo ORT school, Vilnius
How you can participate
How the project started
How it can be recited as a poem
How the music was matched to the words
In 17 languages
Hirsh Glik by Phillip Maisel
Phillip was a friend of Hirsh in the ghetto. He has a remarkable account to tell.
Hirsh Glik by Hershl Hartman
A tribute form 2002
Song Heard Around The World by Yuri Suhl
1953 article I fond in the Dorot Library, NYPL
1972 booklet I found in the British Library
How is still being sung in Vilnius today
The collection of the project videos
ORT’s collection of videos from the FSU and Mexico
A study guide for those learning the song
How the project has been reported around the world
How Rachel matched the music to the words
A tribute to a member of the Bielski Partisans
Different versions of the song
The famous recording of Paul Robeson and others
Physical memorials to the song
More information on the partisans
Photos from my visit to the British Library
WH Auden’s famous 1939 poem
An interesting website
Photos from my 2017 visit
Workshop at the Holocaust Centre. Johannesburg
My visit In February 2017
Reprinted from Radical Yiddish with permission of Joel Schechter.