Holocaust Memorial Day 2022
Here are the final moments of our production of The Dybbuk.
You can kill a people but you can never kill their culture.
The ghosts remain to haunt the next generations.
I know it sounds strange but I am haunted by faces, different accents, different bodies, all the lost cousins and aunts and uncles who I want to have known. I see a blonde woman, a dark man, a curly redhead, a fair boy. I don’t know who they are but they often come to me in dreams. They say that a person can be filled with the soul of another and that soul, which has died too early, is a dybbuk, but I, I, I, have so many dybbuks.
The Dybbuk: The Prologue
Judith: I was in Germany and they went on strike. I was taking a little holiday with my fiancé combined with a little research for my job.
I took trains in the strike. There were no trams or buses but the trains still ran on time to the Second.
Strange things happen to me on trains. I meet men. Of a certain age. Men who have not enjoyed the mercy of a late birth. For some strange reason, they are always drawn to me. They are curious. They ask me something in German and, when I respond, they tell me my German is good and where did I learn it. From my grandmother. was she German? no, Romanian. then I wait. Shall I pretend she was a Christian? I can’t. She also spoke Yiddish.
Then they look at me hard. There is usually a silence. Maybe they talk about something else, the strike, what a pity it is that there is no Berlin Wall, the invasion of all those East Germans, anything to cover what is going on behind their eyes. And then, little by little, it comes out.
‘I knew about the Jews. Yes, I knew. I even helped them. My mother lived on the Dutch border. She heard the trains. She used to go out when it was a new moon, in order not to be seen, you understand. She went out and picked up all the scraps of paper, the tiny messages that the people threw out. They wrote on anything, a label from a jacket, a handkerchief, any scrap of material would do. The messages were to warn children in hiding. Of course, we collected all these messages and filled up our kitchen table with them. we tried to get word to those hidden children. We did what we could.’
They don’t always pretend to have helped. Sometimes they tell me of their life in the Hitler Youth. Of their joy in pointing out a Jew hiding a yellow star behind an empty briefcase. Of Jews riding in trams, refusing to ride in the Jews’ car.
I go to Germany and I think that Hitler won. where is my generation? Where are my cousins? Where is the dream of assimilation? Oh yes, Hitler won.
In Heidelberg, just by McDonalds, is the square where they rounded up the Jews. I see a man in a yamulka. he wears the mark of a religious Jew in defiance. Somehow, he embarrasses me. As so many religious Jews do. Am I ashamed to be a Jew? Is this my own self-hatred? My own antisemitism? I don’t even believe in God, so what makes me a Jew? They don’t talk of such things in my family. Keep your head down. Be British, be cool, be part of the crowd.
More and more I think about my family who vanished. I wonder what happened to them.
I imagine them in a ghetto in Vilna or maybe in Warsaw or Lodz. I know it sounds strange but I am haunted by faces, different accents, different bodies, all the lost cousins and aunts and uncles who I want to have known.
I don’t know who they are but they often come to me in dreams. They say that a person can be filled with the soul of another and that soul, which has died too early, is a dybbuk, but I, I, I, have so many dybbuks.
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