Monday, April 12, 2010

At My Bar Mitzvah – and His

I've always found this poem to be very poignant and powerful...especially on Yom HaShoah.

At My Bar Mitzvah – and His
Dedicated to the memory of a thirteen-year-old hero of the Resistance
By Rabbi Howard Kahn
A responsive reading

When I was thirteen, I became a Bar Mitzvah.
When he was thirteen, he became a Bar Mitzvah.
When I was thirteen, my teachers taught me – to put Tefillin on my arm.
When he was thirteen, his teachers taught him - to throw a hand grenade with his arm.
When I was thirteen, I studied – the pathways of the Bible and roadways of the Talmud.
When he was thirteen, he studied – the canals of Warsaw and the sewers of the Ghetto.
At my Bar Mitzvah, I took an oath to live as a Jew.
At his Bar Mitzvah, he took an oath to die as a Jew.
At my Bar Mitzvah, I blessed G-d.
At his Bar Mitzvah, he questioned G-d.
At my Bar Mitzvah, I lifted my voice and sang.
At his Bar Mitzvah, he lifted his fists and fought.
At my Bar Mitzvah, I read from the Scroll of the Torah.
At his Bar Mitzvah, he wrote a Scroll of Fire.
At my Bar Mitzvah, I wore a new Tallit over a new suit.
At his Bar Mitzvah, he wore a rifle and bullets over a suit of rags.
At my Bar Mitzvah, I started my road of life.
At his Bar Mitzvah, he began his road to martyrdom.
At my Bar Mitzvah, family and friends came – to say “L’chayim.”
At his Bar Mitzvah, Rabbi Akiba and Trumpeldor, Hannah and her seven sons – came to escort him to Heaven.
At my Bar Mitzvah, they praised my voice, my song, my melody.
At his Bar Mitzvah, they praised his strength, his courage, his fearlessness.
When I was thirteen, I was called up to the Torah – I went to the Bimah.
When he was thirteen, his body went up in smoke – his soul rose to G-d.
When I was thirteen, I became a Bar Mitzvah – and lived.
When he was thirteen, he became a Bar Mitzvah – and lives now within each of us.


My own offerings on the Holocaust can be found here and here.

Never forget.






2 comments:

Max Kahn said...

My grandfather Rabbi Howard Kahn z''l of Cong. Beth El of Cherry Hill NJ Wrote that poem . It is amazing.

Anonymous said...

Max--or anyone else,

Do you know when that poem was written?