Itsik Manger (1901-1969)
The «Lovers of Israel» at the Belzhets Death Camp

Irving Howe, Ruth R. Wisse and Khome Shmeruk (eds.): «The Penguin Book of Modern Yiddish Verse», Penguin Books, 1988. Copyright © Irving Howe, Ruth Wisse, and Chone Shmeruk, 1987. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Reb Moyshe Leyb of Sossov points to the heaps of ash
(The storm is but recently weathered).
His beard trembles; his body and life are embittered:
«See, Lord. Ah, take a good look,» he says.

«Listen, gentlemen, listen,» Reb Volf of Zborosh murmurs;
His voice, like an evening fiddle, is tired--
«The Lord above us has not looked well to his vineyard. . . .
Proof: These heaps abandoned on earth.»

Trembling and feverish, Reb Meirl of Przemyslan
Waits, leaning on his old stick. «Gentlemen,»
He says, «Let us in unison call

To God, 'Creator of worlds, Thou art mighty and great,
But we Galician Jews forever erase
Your name from the list of true Lovers of Israel.' »

(from the Yiddish by Leornard Worf)


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