Monday, 12 November 2007

"I saw a Mountain"


I saw a mountain higher than Mt. Blanc
And more holy than the Mountain of Sinai
Not in a dream. It was real.
On this world this mountain stood,
Such a mountain I saw--of Jewish shoes in Majdanek.
Such a mountain--such a mountain I saw.
And suddenly, a strange thing happened…
The mountain moved…
And the thousands of shoes arranged themselves
By size--by pairs--and in rows--and moved.
Hear! Hear the march.
Hear the shuffle of shoes left behind--that which Remained.
From small, from large, from each and every one.
Make way for the rows--for the pairs--
For the generations—for the years.
The shoe army--it moves and moves.
"We are the shoes, we are the last witnesses.
We are the shoes from grandchildren and grandfathers,
From Prague, Paris, and Amsterdam,
And because we are only made of stuff and leather
And not of blood and flesh, each one of us avoided the hellfire.
We shoes--that used to go strolling in the market
Or with the bride and groom the chuppah
We shoes from simple Jews, from butchers and Carpenters
From crocheted booties of babies just beginning to walk and go
On happy occasions, weddings and even until the time
Of giving birth, to a dance, to exciting places in life…
Or quietly--to a funeral.
Unceasingly we go. We tramp.
The hangman never had the chance to snatch us into his
Sack of loot--now we go to him.
Let everyone hear the steps, which flow as tears,
The steps that measure out the judgment."
I saw a mountain
Higher than Mt. Blanc
And more holy then the Mountain of Sinai.

Moshe Shulstein.
This was used in the plenary session after our recent visit to Auschwitz. If there's one thing that haunts me more than anything, it's one particular child's shoe amongst the thousands that you can see. I can see it in my head still.

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