“I Will Not Die” – Finding Hope in the Holocaust
A special look at an incredible tribute to young Jewish boys and girls who endured the horrors of the Holocaust
The theme for this year’s International Holocaust Memorial Day 2021, “Be the light in the darkness,” is a testimony to the eternal Hope of Israel. The emphasis on finding hope in one of history’s most tragic horrors recalls Israel’s “Yom Hashoah” which is held on the 27th of Nisan (in April or May) where it is designated “Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day” honoring as well the valor of all those who braved the atrocities.
January 27th was chosen by the United Nations General Assembly on November 1st, 2005 to commemorate the date that the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated by the Red Army in 1945.
Many countries have instituted their own Holocaust Memorial Days. Many, such as the UK’s Holocaust Memorial Day, also fall on 27 January, while others, such as Israel’s Yom HaShoah, are observed at other times of the year.
Finding light in the darkness – “I Will Not Die”
A member of our Book Club shared a documentary with us that we thought all our readers would appreciate as we take a moment to remember the Holocaust.
Ruth Fazal, the creator of the “Oratorio Terezin” featured in her documentary is a personal friend of my wife and I. We met Ruth in Toronto, Canada in the 1990’s and were deeply moved by her music expressing a deep and enduring love for the Jewish people. She later went on to perform in Israel many times throughout the years.
Ruth sees all that she does, whether playing or singing, to be a means of expressing the heart of God with the desire to impart something of the Father’s heart for His people Israel, through her music.
The year 2000 marked a turning point in Ruth’s life as she began working on Oratorio Terezin, a work for soloists, choirs and symphony orchestra premiered in 2003 in Toronto, followed by tours in Europe, Israel and the US. Oratorio Terezin is based on the poetry of children from the Holocaust combined with portions of Scripture. Ruth explains that the writing of Oratorio Terezin was the doorway that God chose for her to enter into His heart for His people Israel. In all the performances, Holocaust survivors are in attendance as honored guests.
During the Holocaust, Terezin (Theresienstadt) Ghetto in Czechoslovakia was a waiting station for the Nazi death camps. Fifteen thousand Jewish girls and boys passed through the gates of Terezin. A few more than one hundred survived.
Many of the children entrusted their feelings and thoughts to the art and poetry which they wrote while in the Ghetto. Some of these works survived and were eventually published, including this poem from which comes the title of the documentary, “I Will Not Die.”
The world’s abloom and seems to smile,
I want to fly, but where, how high?
If in barbed wire things can bloom,
Why couldn’t I – I Will Not Die.
These children’s works inspired Ruth to compose Oratorio Terezin, which expresses the voices of the Jewish children, of God, of suffering, and of the Hebrew scriptures. She describes it as “a love song… a message of hope, composed in the context of so much darkness.”
The children who sing in Oratorio Terezin sing the words of those who died, but as their own lives are transformed by their experiences on this journey, they become their voice. While paying tribute to those who perished, this is a rare story offering an affirmation of hope, an inspiration that lives on in all who see it.
Text on the documentary from the website with minor edits.
Watch documentary here