Sherwin Pomerantz

Es Brent Breider, Es Brent….It is Burning Brothers, It is Burning

It’s burning, brothers! It’s burning!  Oh, our poor village, brothers, burns! Evil winds, full of anger, rage and ravage, smash and shatter;  Stronger now that wild flames grow — All around now burns!

Those words of songwriter Mordecai Gebirtig, written in Yiddish and translated here, were written in 1936, following a pogrom in the Polish town of Przytyk.  During the Second World War, the song became popular in the Krakow ghetto and inspired young people to take up arms against the Nazis.  Gebirtig was killed in June 1942 during a roundup for deportation from the Krakow ghetto. Sadly the words of the song have become current once again as Europe’s Jewish community now begins to feel the heat of anti-Semitism.

And you stand there looking on with futile, folded arms and you stand there looking on — While our village burns! It’s burning, brothers! It’s burning!  Oh, our poor village, brothers, burns!

Earlier this week 300 gravestones in a Jewish cemetery in France were vandalized, some overturned, others defaced while still others were broken.  The very next day a similar incident occurred in Germany, this time stones were defaced with swastikas along with the words “Juden Raus,” …Jews out, once again, in Europe, 2015.

Soon the rabid tongues of fire will consume each house entire, as the wild wind blows and howls — The whole towns up in flames!  And you stand there looking on with futile, folded arms and you stand there looking on — while our village burns!

A French journalist last week dons a kippah and fringes and spends an hour walking the streets of Paris.  Within the hour, as documented by an unseen camera trailing him, he was spat upon multiple times, pushed, shoved, called “Dirty Jew” and told to go home…..France, 2015.

It’s burning, brothers! Our town is burning! Oh, God forbid the moment should arrive, that our town, with us, together, should go up in ash and fire, leaving when the slaughter is ended charred and empty walls!  And you stand there looking on with futile, folded arms,

This week the Italian government called up 4,800 soldiers to fan out across the country to prevent terrorist attacks and protect Jewish institutions after the unprovoked killing of a Jewish security guard in front of a synagogue in Denmark.  In France and Belgium soldiers now stand guard outside Jewish schools to prevent violence in those locations after the slaughter of four innocent Jewish shoppers in a kosher supermarket in Paris a few weeks earlier.

And you stand there looking on — while our village burns! It’s burning, brothers! Our town is burning!  And our salvation hands on you alone.  If our town is dear to you, grab the buckets, douse the fire! Show that you know how!  Don’t stand there, brothers, looking on with futile, folded arms, don’t stand there, brothers, douse the fire! — our poor village burns!

But so far, no one is grabbing the buckets, no one is dousing the fire.  Why the elected leader of the free world (as we used to call the President of the United States) does not even want to call this what it is.  It is more than Muslim fundamentalism gone amok.  These are the acts of people who are part of a political movement masquerading as a religion rather than random acts of violence.  And even when politicians of principle such as the Prime Minister of France is willing to call this what it is in front of the French Parliament, others immediately say that he is being manipulated by Jewish influences.

Es Brent Breider, Es Brent…..It is burning brothers, it is burning.  And if not stopped soon, there will not be enough buckets or enough water to put out the fire. Heaven help us all if we get to that point.

About the Author
Sherwin Pomerantz is a native New Yorker, who lived and worked in Chicago for 20 years before coming to Israel in 1984. An industrial engineer with advanced degrees in mechanical engineering and business, he is President of Atid EDI Ltd., a 32 year old Jerusalem-based economic development consulting firm which, among other things, represents the regional trade and investment interests of a number of US states, regional entities and Invest Hong Kong. A past national president of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel, he is also Former Chairperson of the Board of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and a Board Member of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce. His articles have appeared in various publications in Israel and the US.