Home > Uncategorized > Passover and Primo Levi 4/7/10

Passover and Primo Levi 4/7/10

Passover is winding up and I had meant to post this sooner. Passover is probably my favorite Jewish holiday. I love the ritual of the seder and the story of liberation Passover represents. The Jewish people were a slave people who escaped Pharoah.
 
While it is not a Passover poem, I have long loved this poem by Primo Levi that I initially saw in Tikkun Magazine. It has a message that resonates with Passover. It was translated by Ruth Feldman.
 
Gedale’s Song
 
Do you not recognize us? We are the ghetto sheep,
Shorn for a thousand years, resigned to injury.
We are the tailors, the copyists, and the cantors
Withered in the shadow of the Cross.
Now we have learned the forest paths,
Learned to shoot and we’re right on target.
   If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
   If not like this, how? And if not now, when?
Our brothers have risen to the sky
Through the ovens of Sobibor and Treblinka,
They have dug themselves a grave in the air.
Only we few have survived
For the honor of our submerged people,
For revenge and witnessing.
  If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
  If not like this, how? And if not now, when?
We are the sons of David, and the stubborn ones of Masada.
Each of us carries in his pocket the stone
That shattered Goliath’s forehead.
Brothers, away from the Europe of death:
We will climb together toward the land
Where we shall be men among other men.
  If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
  If not like this, how? And if not now, when?
 

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