A poetic tribute to the 20,000 victims of the Danube River massacre of December 1944 – January 1945. Yehi zichram baruch. Hashem yinkom damam.


They leave their shoes

At the River Danube

And the gates of an Altar

called Auschwitz

The Chazzan’s Voice

It echoes

Along the banks

Of a raging river

It sings softly, urgently

“R’tzei”

That’s the sign

They must ascend

They mustn’t delay

“Koh sevarchun es b’nei Yisrael”

Six Million priests

Draped in yellowed cloth

Marked with barbed-wire stripes

Step toward the Kohen’s platform

To “duchen” one last time

Barefoot on the riverbank

Hallowed ground

They chant the prayer with eyes ablaze

The age-old tune carried by the mournful wind

Through the deathly silence

“Yevorechecha”

The world stands still

“Hashem”

The heavens shudder

“V’yishmerecha”

The guns release their wrath

Bodies swept away

Those Kohanim yet stand

Barefoot at “R’tzei”

Hands ever raised

Eyes ever ablaze

Compelled from within

To face a murderous congregation

And recite Birkhas Kohanim

Their shoes remain

Just where they left them

As does their blessing

As does their gift

Our generation’s “Modim”

Is built on the shoulders of

Their final “R’tzei”


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R’ Yaakov Klein is the founder of the Lost Princess Initiative, an author, musician, and lecturer devoted to sharing the inner light of Torah through his books, music, and lectures.

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