In honor of George and Gladys Roback
In honor of Ilona Karmel & Henia Karmel-Wolfe
A few weeks ago I attended a Passover seder on the theme of social justice. We sat around the table talking about Malcolm X, Gandhi, Moses, and eventually Anielewicz. We read his last letter and spoke about “Jewish resistance.” We contemplated the age-old question of “what in the world would you, in this day and age, be willing to rise up against?” The conversation orbited around political action and reform, about dedicating one’s life to fighting back, about emulating Anielewicz’s ghetto uprising in the fight to combat institutional racism in the American education system through protest and organizing. It was all very wonderful and it was all very unsettling.
As I listened I couldn’t help but think about my great aunt Ilona Karmel, the novelist, teacher, and poet. She was born in Krakow before the war and survived with her sister, my grandmother, despite being run over by a tank during a death march in the twilight of German’s rule over Poland. I thought about how she and my grandmother wrote poems in the concentration camp and hid them by sewing them into the hems of their skirts. I thought about how when the tank crushed their legs and killed their mother in front of them they tore open their skirts and gave the poems to a cousin who left them for dead. I thought about how they survived. I thought about my grandfather being handed the poems in the days after liberation and what he must have felt clutching the body of their work, the art of their suffering.
In honor of Irving & Lisa Kamrat
Torn, yanked and pulled from the nest without warning
Sent walking in circles without a direction or future in sight
Bare of feet until the bottoms begin to burn, scrape and bleed
Yet I live
Seven months of age my only son, my baby boy
Pulled from his mother’s arms as together we watch him thrown to the fires!
Yet I live
Thrown on a train to nowhere, so I think
Crushed by the piles of living human bodies lying atop me
Adele my darling, where are you?
Yet I live
Unaware of the amnesia about to
set in from the weight of these men
atop my head. Adele I said, “Where is the boy?”
Yet I Live
In honor of all of the survivors and their families
In a recent interview, my grandfather and I looked through his paintings that tell a story he often found too difficult to put into words. These paintings are the inspiration behind UNSPEAKABLE: AN ANIMATED HOLOCAUST DOCUMENTARY— a tribute to my own familial legacy, and to the legacy of all those affected by the Holocaust. It is our responsibility to remember the 12 million people who perished and to honor those who miraculously survived. It is our responsibility to share their stories. It is our responsibility to preserve their legacy.