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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

Ikh Vel Nisht Fargesn-I Will Not Forget

Updated: Sep 7, 2022

This week as I danced with my dance class I listened to a piece of music and heard my father's voice in the voice of the singer. The singer, Yaacov Shapiro, sang in Yiddish and the deep tones of his voice brought back memories of my father. Yiddish music brings me back to my childhood in a very strong way. I listened to Yiddish music as a child and as a teen. Now when I hear Yiddish music, I hear my father's voice and I am stirred down to my soul.

After the class I found myself saying out loud to myself, "Tatte, Ikh vel nisht fargesn," or "Father, I will not forget." For that reason, from that piece of music, I add a second post here this week. It is is because of the music, my father, the concept of remembering and because it is Elul.

My father's story of the Holocaust was central to our upbringing. He emphasized that we should not forget; and although he wanted his children's stories to be radically different than his own, he could not forget the influence the war had upon him and his story is what he asked us to remember deep down in our blood.

How do we pass on memories, so that other's memories and experiences become our own? This is what I believe is being asked in Parshat Ki Teitzei,where we are provided with laws to create a just society. The justification for these laws is the memory of being slaves in Egypt and miraculously leaving Egypt. We are asked to keep in mind an experience that belongs to us, because we are part of a people, but in many ways it is so far away that it is difficult to connect to it. What was a challenge then is still a challenge now.

The question here is how to incorporate important memories into our beings.

We are a quilt of memories, some belonging to us and so many that belong to others....


"Tatte, ikh vel nicht fargesen.

Daddy, I will not forget."

Daddy, you always said.

"Remember where you came from."

You said, "Remember my story,

for my story is yours."

You said, "Remember my story

of forests and thieves,

being chased and hunted,

of hunger that ate away at my belly,

at cold that tore at my hands and feet.

A black hole of blood and caves.

Your story of death, of survival

and coming out into the light of life once again.

Daddy, I heard,

I listened,

but how do I remember in my own bones

that did not suffer from cold,

but lived in a house with heat and food?

Can I catch your story like the tail of a high flying kite?

I remember always. I tell your story.

With time, stories fade;

memories, too.

What does it mean

to remember?

Is it enough to pass it on to my children?

What is memory of the past

without present action?


some remember and are broken.

Some remember and reject.

Some remember and are silent.

Others remember and go mad.

But some remember, and ideas take root

and the memory sprouts and continue to exist.

Remembering is the water that nourishes the tree.

The story lives and breathes still

in your children,

in your grandchildren,

and beyond.

From generation to generation.

        איך וועל נישט פאַרגעסן

by Heike Brinkmann, Guido Muller, Hans Haider, Hector Zamore, Yaacov Shapiro, Enrique Ungarte

Taken from Spotify

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