The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre and the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver were among 125 partners presenting a global commemoration of the 77th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising recently.
Beginning and ending with stirring renditions of the “Partisans’ Hymn,” the online event, which also commemorated the end of the Second World War 75 years ago, featured a long list of singers and performers from Hollywood, Broadway and elsewhere, including Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Mayim Bialik, Whoopi Goldberg, Adrien Brody, Lauren Ambrose and dozens more.
We Are Here: A Celebration of Resilience, Resistance and Hope, which took place June 14, was produced by the Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, Sing for Hope, the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene and the Lang Lang International Music Foundation.
“Zog Nit Keyn Mol” (“Never Say”) is generally called “The Partisans’ Song” or “The Partisans’ Hymn” in English and is an anthem of resilience amid catastrophe sung at Holocaust commemorative events. Written in the Vilna Ghetto by Hirsh Glik after he learned of the six-week uprising by Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, its stirring concluding lines translate as, “So never say you now go on your last way / Though darkened skies may now conceal the blue of day / Because the hour for which we’ve hungered is so near / Beneath our feet the earth shall thunder, ‘We are here!’”
Other musical performances included a Yiddish rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” adapted and performed by pianist and singer Daniel Kahn; “Over the Rainbow,” from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, composed by Harold Arlen with lyrics by Yip Harburg, two friends from the Lower Eastside of Manhattan, against the spectre of a darkening Europe; and “Es Brent” (“In Flames”), a musical cri de coeur written in 1936 by Mordechai Gebirtig after what he viewed as the world’s indifference to a pogrom in the Polish town of Przycik.
Andrew Cuomo, governor of the state of New York, spoke of his father, the late former New York governor Mario Cuomo, who helped ensure the creation of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the world’s third-largest Holocaust museum.
One of the other presenting partners, the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, is the longest continuously producing Yiddish theatre company in the world, now in its 105th season. It was founded to entertain and enlighten the three million Jews who arrived in New York City between 1880 and 1920.
Sing for Hope, another partner, believes in the power of the arts to create a better world. Its mission is to “bring hope, healing and connection to millions of people worldwide in hospitals, schools, refugee camps and transit hubs.”
The Lang Lang International Music Foundation aims “to educate, inspire and motivate the next generation of classical music lovers and performers and to encourage music performance at all levels as a means of social development for youth, building self-confidence and a drive for excellence.”
The program, which runs approximately 90 minutes, is available for viewing at wearehere.live.