Music for Yom HaShoah: A Time of Remembrance | St. Lawrence University Chaplain's Office

Music for Yom HaShoah: A Time of Remembrance

Music of Herman Berlinski (1910-2001)

Elegy for Organ

Kol Nidre

In Memoriam

Nigun (Air)

The full name of the day commemorating the victims of the Holocaust is ‘Yom HaShoah VeHagevurah’ – in Hebrew literally translated as the ‘Day of (remembrance of) the Holocaust and the Heroism.’ It is important to remember all of those who were killed in concentration camps and throughout Europe by Nazi tormentors. We must remember how the Jews through passive resistance retained their human dignity in the most unbearable conditions, and, by active resistance, fought the Nazis in the ghettos and joined underground partisans who fought the Third Reich in its occupied countries. Eventually, they were successful in building new lives.  We must remember so that it never happens again.

The lighted candles symbolize the over six million Jews that were killed and the over five million partisans who died in the resistance to the Third Reich.

Let us remember.

Herman Berlinski is a leader in Jewish composition for both the organ and choral ensembles, and orchestras. Though his family background was Eastern European, his parents relocated to Germany where Herman was born and lived his early life. At sixteen he moved to Paris and spent his young adulthood in the company of Daniel-Lesur and Olivier Messiaen who influenced his thinking on the important role that music plays in the drama of liturgical settings. After taking French citizenship and serving in the French Foreign Legion, Herman and his wife Sina moved to the United States where he was active as a composer, concert organist and synagogue musician.

The music selected for this program paints a tone picture of the pain of loss and how we must forgive but not forget what happened during the Holocaust. The subtle dissonances that resolve into a beautiful unison or a tonal chord enhance the atmosphere of tension.  The contrasting dynamics allow the pain of remembrance to be heard.

The ‘Elegy’ with its single melodic lines that are distinctly Hebrew set the stage for this program.  ‘Kol Nidre’ which is the prayer sung at the beginning of the service on the evening before Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) annuls  all careless promises; it cleans the slate for the coming year. Its mystical setting leads us into a deeper reflection upon what has past and what is to come, prompting us to ponder how we want to live moving forward.  ‘In Memoriam’ allows for deep heartfelt agony as we prepare to take up the mantle of grief and move forward in remembering what occurred during the Holocaust and why we must always be vigilant in life. Coming to us from Hasidic Judaism, the ‘Nigun’ or Air allows us to reflect on the mystical joy of intense prayer. We must remember the Holocaust, how it happened and what each of us must commit to do to never allow it to happen again. 

To complete the 2020-2021 Organ Concert Series there will be two additional concerts. On Memorial Day weekend, beginning May 28, Remembering Those Who Have Served, will honor all people who have served the United States of America in any of the ways that we all honor. Beginning July 2, Celebrating the Fourth of July will be available. Please join us as we celebrate all that has been and who we can be working together. Thank you for your support of this program