Monday, April 2, 2007

Babi Yar Remembered

Yevgeny Yevtushenko reading Babi YarNo monument stands over Babi Yar.
A steep cliff only, like the rudest headstone.
I am afraid.
Today, I am as old
As the entire Jewish race itself.

So begins the poem Babi Yar, by Yevgeni Yevtushenko, which tells the story of a massacre of Jews in Kiev by the Nazi's but is also the story of Russian pogroms and of callous hate. (You can read the whole text at Part of my family was from the Kiev area. I didn't know this poem, but am glad I do now.

Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13 The Museum of Jewish Heritage commemorated the 65th anniversary of the massacre last September with a concert titled "Babi Yar Remembered: Yevtushenko and Shostakovich in Word and Song." The concert begins with Yevtushenko masterfully reciting the poem. It continues with a performance of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13, which was inspired by the poem. It's a stunning performance.

I know because I'm listening to it now (for the third time). The Museum has graciously put the reading and performance up for download on their website. Listen to it. Tonight is Erev Peseach and I've been thinking a lot about freedom and slavery. Babi Yar (the massacre and the poem) are reminders of what we long to be free from

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