The celebration of this Seder night left imprints on my soul. Now, when I perform the Passover service, I understand the meaning of the statement that each man in every generation is obliged to consider himself as if he personally was redeemed from slavery into freedom.” – Rabbi Chaim Yitzchak Greengrass
As we all work to keep our Seders connected to our traditions in this non-traditional time, JewishGen and the Museum of Jewish Heritage are pleased to reissue the JewishGen Passover Companion, which contains historical and inspirational vignettes curated from JewishGen’s collection of Yizkor (Memorial) Books and other material that JewishGen volunteers and researchers have translated into English. These excerpts focus on how Passover was experienced at another time of great distress, documenting first-hand accounts about the great effort and personal risk (Mesirat Nefesh) Jews took to observe the holiday during the Holocaust.
Among items included in this year’s JewishGen Passover Companion is an excerpt from the Yizkor Book of Jedwabne, Poland, written by Rabbi Chaim Yitzchak Greengrass. It describes how Jews imprisoned at Auschwitz-Birkenau managed to conduct a Seder in 1943.
Greengrass writes: “The celebration of this Seder night left imprints on my soul. Now, when I perform the Passover service, I understand the meaning of the statement that each man in every generation is obliged to consider himself as if he personally was redeemed from slavery into freedom. Passover of 1943 was an experience that I shall remember always. The observance of it took place at Birkenau near Auschwitz, one of the greatest annihilation camps, built by slaves to exterminate themselves and the innocent people that would follow. Planning and preparations started right after Purim. There were many things to be taken care of. The main problem was how to get the two most necessary items, matzoh and wine, for the Seder.”
To read more about this 1943 Seder at Auschwitz-Birkenau and additional Passover stories collected from Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Lithuania, and Poland, please complete the form below to receive a link to download the file.