20 Apr 2015

Courage Worth Commending

Written in the perspective of Kasia Cheng 12D1, one of the performers at the Yom Hashoah Ceremony.

Last Wednesday, Shimali, Claudia, and I had the privilege to perform at the Jewish Community Center as part of their Yom Hashoah Ceremony. Around 200 people partook in the event, including one Holocaust survivor. The ceremony began with opening words from Simon Goldberg, our director and a key organiser of the event, and proceeded with the symbolic lighting of candles; speeches; and students of Elsa High School displaying the numbers of Jewish lives lost during the Holocaust.
About halfway through the ceremony, the three of us stood up to perform an excerpt of Charlotte Delbo’s Who Will Carry the Word? These five bold and haunting words were projected on a banner behind the stage.
Delbo was a survivor of the Holocaust.
Though she herself was not Jewish, she was a member of the French Resistance during World War Two and thus was thrown into Auschwitz by the Nazis.
Delbo’s piece centred around the lives of three women, whom were in a concentration camp, and their discussions about their experiences and the atrociousness of life there; as well as the ethical questions. Was their experience worth anything? How could they return home? Nobody would believe them, nor be able to comprehend the extremities of what they had seen.
The ceremony concluded with the stories of those who were part of the Holocaust and a song in Hebrew.
The three of us had worked with Ms Purves and Simon Goldberg for several weeks leading up to the performance. It was clear that their direction and support had been invaluable, and a considerable number of people approached us after the ceremony to thank and congratulate us.
The entire experience was incredibly touching, and I know I speak for Claudia, Shimali, and myself when I say that we feel incredibly lucky to have been a part of this.
“If you don’t understand us / it’s because we can no longer give those words / the meaning they had there” – Charlotte Delbo