My Mother Goes to the Marketplace

A poem by Leibel [Arie] Zabner, Yizkor book, 1971, page 318

Translated from Yiddish.

My Mother Goes to the Marketplace
Arie Zabner

The pale color of her face, witness
To the many fasts of these latest times
[She] runs every day to the burial place of her grandparents,
She stands for hours at the gravesite of the Rabbi.

Her heart [is] as if solid stone, her eyes dried up
From crying, pleading, day and night
Master of the Universe, one can lose one’s mind
As our situation worsens day-to-day, so terrible.

You have locked up the Gates of Mercy against us,
Shut your eyes, You do not want to see our pain
No matter how much pity you do not have on us,
A father is never allowed to abandon his children, no!!

This is how my mother argued with G-d, so to speak ---
This last time, almost without end.
She cries because of the destruction of her children, as the matriarch Rachel:
Father in Heaven, see our pain and listen.

On Sunday, parshas Noach [the week of the Torah reading portion of the story of Noah], a great turmoil,
“All the Jews, young and old, have to be present in the market place,”
Shout the Germans, and the Jews go in deathly silence
The clubs and sticks whistle over their heads and bodies.

Our home is prepared
My mother leads the way
She pauses at the door, she stands
Her hand on the mezuza, and she cries out:

Why only us Jews, G-d in Heaven!
If the world is sinful and You do not want to forgive it.
Then send now – as to Noach – a flood, chaos, and turmoil.
Destroy the world, the entire life.

And if You only love the Jewish sacrifice
Then see how I go to the Akeida with my children [referring to Akeidat Yitzchok, the “binding” or sacrifice of Isaac in the Biblical story]
Then kill us all together in our home
Why take each one of us individually.

The wailing and cries of the neighbors who are rushing by
Awaken my mother, and she hurries to go
“Come children, come, let there already be an end.
Stay together with me. G-d forbid you should remain alone!”