Today on Yom HaShoah, the Knesset (Israel's parliament) held its "Unto Every Person There Is a Name" ceremony. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shared these very moving remarks:
My beloved late father-in-law, Shmuel Ben-Artzi, who won the Ka-Tzenik Prize for Holocaust Literature, was the only member of his family who survived the Holocaust. He was saved because in 1933, at the age of 18, he came here despite the pleadings of his father Moshe. He had studied at the Novardok Yeshiva, was a Hebrew pioneer who worked in orchards and built up the land. He was in both the Etzel and the Haganah. He was also a great Hebrew educator, major Tanakh scholar, an author and a poet.
He wrote a moving, heartfelt poem about the Holocaust, "To the Land of Moriah" in 1941, two years after he lost contact with his family but before he knew what happened to them.
"To the Land of Moriah
My father –
I did not know what had befallen him.
Was he still alive? In what place
there did he wander, pursued and threatened?
I am here alone going up Mt. Moriah.
Many generations are laid upon my back:
Broken pieces of burnt wood dripping anguish,
And in my eyes lightning-fire of thousands of ovens,
Into which thousands of murderers were not thrown;
a blade dripping blood and anguish in my heart.
G-d, give me a sign!
Do not send an angel and ram,
let no shofar sound my name!
The binding of thousands has not assuaged your wrath,
Even my coming up is for naught –
G-d, give me a sign!"
The sign never came.
I will now read the names of some of the relatives of my father-in-law, Shmuel Ben-Artzi from Bilgoraj, Poland, who perished in the Holocaust:
The father to whom he wrote the poem, my wife's grandfather, Moshe Hahn, his father's wife Ita, his twin sister Yehudit, who was 24.
His brothers Meir Hahn .(18), Shimon Tzvi (16) and Aryeh Leib (13), and his little sister Feizele (10).
His uncle Avraham Tauber, his wife and their son and daughter.
His aunt Rachel Tauber .and her three sons – Avraham, Yaakov and Shlomo, and their wives and children.
His aunt Hinda and her husband Yehezkel.
His aunt Hendel, her husband and their children.
His aunt Paula and her two daughters.
His aunt Ma'tel Koenigstein, her son Hillel and her eldest daughter.
His uncle Mendel Hahn, his wife and their two children.
May their memories be blessed.