Aviv Geffen, other stars, record songs from Holocaust survivors' writings

“In my view, the Holocaust means to understand mankind’s ability to take cruelty to the farthest extremes, and I personally have lost part of my family in the Holocaust,” said Geffen.

Rabbi Avraham Krieger together with Aviv Geffen  (photo credit: TZVI LIN)
Rabbi Avraham Krieger together with Aviv Geffen
(photo credit: TZVI LIN)
A host of Israel’s biggest music stars, including Israeli rock musicians Aviv Geffen, Ninet Tayeb and Noa Kirel, will be recording a series of songs based on the writings of those caught in the Holocaust, ahead of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day.

Entitled 
“Shem Olam 2019,” the project is dedicated to “breathing new life into compositions of Jews from the Holocaust,” and will focus on putting various letter, poems and other written compositions to music and recording them as songs by leading Israeli musicians.

Shem Olam is a Holocaust education and research institute based in the religious moshav of Kfar Haroeh in the Sharon district, and is seeking to memorialize the writings of those who lived through, and died, in the Nazi genocide.


“In my view, the Holocaust means to understand mankind’s ability to take cruelty to the farthest extremes, and I personally have lost part of my family in the Holocaust,” said Geffen, who is the musical director of the project.


“I was more than happy to partner with Shem Olam and to help remind young people and the next generations of this dark period in human history,” he said. “For years I have been working discreetly to help survivors, and now it is more important than ever,” noting that many are currently living in poverty.


Geffen said that he hoped the upcoming Holocaust Memorial Day will not be “just another sad day where they play quiet songs on the radio and screen black and white films on TV,” and that instead it would be “a meaningful day of memory for our people, connect us to our roots, and ring a warning bell for the next generations.”


Rabbi Avraham Krieger, director of Shem Olam International Center, noted that as the last generation of Holocaust survivors passes, first-hand testimony of the Holocaust will pass too, and said that it was critical to preserve their memories.


“Our children will no longer grow up experiencing the live testimonies and first-hand accounts of these unimaginable horrors,” said Krieger. “The Holocaust will stop being a history lesson, and turn into a Bible lesson. Now it is our duty to preserve the past and learn from it, and in that way, influence the future.”


One of the songs which has been produced is based on a poem sent by 17-year-old Ahuva Pushtnik to her aunt living in mandatory Palestine.


The music for this poem, entitled “Homeland,” was composed by the singer Effi Netzer and will be performed by musician Yishai Levi.


Etty Hillesum from Holland wrote about her experience hiding from the Nazis before she was murdered in Auschwitz in 1943, and a song based on her text will be performed by Israeli singer and actress Kirel.

These texts and others were unearthed by the Shem Olam International Center.


The various songs and compositions that are recorded will be launched in a yet to be determined format at a later date.
Moshe Klughaft, founder and director of the project: “You can murder people in the Holocaust, but you can’t take their lives away from them. This creative process will restore the life and vitality that were lost: that is the least that we can, and must do.”