By Izzy Nelken
Trying to grasp Elie Wiesel's "Night"
It's an internal fight
I read two pages, leave and come back
imagine the gallows around someone's neck
Elie's father was well respected
it didn't help him when he was "selected"
whatever they had was taken away
and there was nothing you could do or say
My grandfather had a lot of clout
but our entire family was wiped out
he had a factory and property and bank accounts
today, I am filled with doubts:
a man works all his life to collect
then, one day it is taken, so what's the effect?
"Men to the left, women to the right"
mother and sister are soon out of sight
this happened to our parents but could have been us
and yesterday, we made such a fuss
should we eat Italian or Chinese?
they survived on snow, so please...
sitting in Chicago, my belly is full
they weren't so lucky, under Nazi rule
you stand in a group of five
and try to survive
A few days after Elie's operation
the Nazis announce an evacuation
should they leave or should they stay?
what's the right answer, who can say?
they must decide
there is no place to hide
The other day I went for a run
on the Lakeshore, under the sun
with a Walkman and a bottle of Evian
what can I say, it was a lot of fun
But can you imagine running all night
the SS guard has you in his sight
the machine gun is fired
if you get tired
Elie slept just above his dad
the Nazi hit him on the head
and the next day, he was dead
This is very real
and also un-imaginable
there's a lesson here
but it's so intangible
What's important in life?
my family and my wife
education, career and financial success
who are we trying to impress?
But in times of extreme strife
an extra blanket may save your life
all you want is soup and bread
and a place to rest your head
We live very good here
and it won't disappear
This I try to believe
so I can live
a normal life
with my wife
By Izzy Nelken
From Jessica Hollander: I wrote this poem when I was in my first year of
high school, at age 14. I submitted it in a poetry writing contest in
California and won first place for it. there was a special ceremony and Mel
Mermelstein was present to give my award. Here it goes....
There Lies Hope
By Jessica Hollander
With one great swipe of his unmerciful hand,
He led us destruction.
With one great tear streaming from my eye,
I send myself back in time to those painful years.
A time when the world was ablaze with a burning hatred.
A hatred so threatening and vicious,
Against a humble people so full of innocence.
I question myself, gazing above into the clear blue sky.
Expecting an answer, but no answer comes.
With each fresh tear, I struggle with my burden
Until one night in my dream
The answer is revealed.
A dream bursting with hope.
It was hope that took my people by the hand
An led us into a new world of promise.
We are fragile no more.
Within my people there is a strength.
A strength born out of hope
Wretchedness and despair abound no more.
We are here, for deep within us there lies hope.
The ghosts of Auchwitz are chasing me again
just like they did when I was ten
I sat with in the kitchen with my mom
trying to speak, I was quite dumb
Tried to listen to what she had to say
wished it was just another regular day
and now its midnight and I am drunk
smoked a cigar and smell like a skunk
what is the meaning of life, I try to figure
with the skills of a mathematician and all its rigor
Menke Kalisch, Kopel Reich
those are important figures in my psych
I can feel them fight
with all their might
"Torah is important, everything else is fake"
No! More dough you got to make
Mom would wake up every morning
and sort of go into mourning
Where is her family and Galanta, she tried to shout
Do you know what this is about?
Lisa lies next to me. so innocent
never had to deal with anything indecent
wish I could be like her
and think that life is fair
But I think of my uncle, whom I never met
but can't seem to be able to forget
and both of my grandparents
and their families
rolling in their grave
whom no one wanted to save