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Commentary / Readings
Source : Rabbi Dr. Bernhard H. Rosenberg


In the Haggadah it says, "And the Egyptians did evil to us and they made us suffer. They set upon us hard work." This is the story of how the Nazis, like the Egyptians, were taskmasters over your grandparents.

This is a letter I sent to my youngest son, Ari, 18, who is a student at Yeshivat Shaarei Mevaseret Zion in Israel. He went on the Heritage Tour to Poland last month with hundreds of other students. Each is asked to speak about their family’s heritage on the trip.
Dear Ari:
This is your heritage as we know it: Your grandparents, Rachel and Jacob Rosenberg of blessed memory did not speak much about their families who were all murdered, and I did not ask questions since I knew it would hurt them terribly.
They died before the Shoah programs of getting parents to give witness were started by (Steven) Spielberg.
Out of both their large families, only one half sister of Zeide’s, his aunt, Regina, survived. She and her daughter, Maria Devinki, and Maria’s husband, Fred Devinki, were able to pay a farmer to hide them during the war.
Jacob Rosenberg, your grandfather, was born in Wodzislaw or Wrodzislaw (spelled many different ways), Poland. His parents, Berish and Feigel Miriam lived with their children on a street next to several other of their relatives. At least five houses were owned by their extended family.
We visited the town several years ago and found Jacob’s original birth certificate in the town hall records. Maria and her family hired someone years ago who found the original deed to the land our family owned, which is now the parking of the town hall.
Jacob had four brothers and sisters, all married with children before the war. Jacob also was married before the war and had two children who were murdered. We do not know their names, but he worked in the town of Bezdin in the meat business.

Jacob was in several concentration camps, escaped, was a partisan fighter, was shot and captured again and ended up in Auschwitz from which he was liberated. He had a tattooed number on his arm, but we cannot find the records at this point. We did find the old large shul in the town, which is falling down and dangerous to enter. There was a plaque on the outside wall indicating the Jews who were rounded up and taken to Treblinka.
Rachel Rosenberg’s maiden name was Frankel. Her parents were Jacob and Bluma. She had four brothers and sister who also were married with children. Her family was well off and owned a leather factory in Cracow. They lived in Slomnicki, Poland, near Cracow.
Source : R.Gabriele S. Silten

                                                            Where were You, Adonai *,
                                                            in that black, bitter, unending night?
                                                            Were You asleep?
                                                            Unconscious? Comatose?
                                                            Or did You go away?
                                                            How can we appeal to You
                                                            when You are not there?
                                                            Did You forsake us?
                                                            Where were You, Adonai,
                                                            when we needed Your help?
                                                            We wept for You
                                                            but were not comforted.
                                                            We cried out to You
                                                            but were not answered.
                                                            We prayed to You,
                                                            but our prayer did not rise.
                                                            Where were You, Adonai,
                                                            when we labored as slaves,
                                                            when adults became weak as children,
                                                            when children became adults in a day
                                                            and too many of us were killed
                                                            in that black, bitter, unending night?
                                                            How can we call on You
                                                            when we are ashes?
                                                            Did You forsake us?
                                                            Now that daylight has returned,
                                                            have You awakened, Adonai,
                                                            thinking that this was just a dream?
                                                            It was no dream, Adonai,
                                                            it was Your people’s nightmare.
                                                            And now, Adonai, are You awake?
                                                            Conscious? Alert?
                                                            Have You returned from where You were?
                                                            When we weep,
                                                            will You now comfort us?
                                                            When we cry out to You,
                                                            will You now answer?
                                                            When we pray to You,
                                                            will our prayer now rise?
                                                            Can our remnant now invoke You?
                                                            Are You there, Adonai?
                                                                       R. Gabriele S. Silten