This week's Yizkor book excerpt on the JewishGen Facebook page #yizkorbooks

Bruce Drake

One of the most powerful Yizkor book passages I have read contains the words of Rabbi Nahum Moshele who spoke to a throng of Jews who were about to be slaughtered In Kovel (Ukraine). What he said was remembered by Ben-Zion Sher in a chapter from the Yizkor book titled “Thus the City was Destroyed.” This excerpt, subtitled “The Vast Slaughter in Brisk Square,” recounts the massacre and how Sher survived it.

Scholars have described what Moshele said as being in the tradition of “Kiddush Hashem” — religious martyrdom in a time of persecution. One writer cited Moshele’s speech in his exploration of how the Jews found the spiritual power to endure their suffering.

In a voice choked with tears, Moshele laments that “our flame is extinguished” and that “No one will come to prostrate themselves on our graves, no one will say Kaddish for us, no one will hold memories of us in his heart.” He says the people have sinned but asks the Lord what sins have been committed by the children and infants “that your wrath be spilled upon them?”

He ends with a confirmation of faith.

““Jews, we are approaching martyrdom. Let us be united as one person. Let us go to our deaths with gladdened hearts. This horrible moment shall pass, and the merciful Lord above us will give our souls repose under His wings.”

I should mention that, after more than 10 years, the Kovel book translation has now been completed.



Bruce Drake

Silver Spring MD

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