“Silent Tears, The Last Yiddish Tango” is a musical program featuring songs inspired by the poetry of Holocaust survivors at Aventura Arts and Cultural Center 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 5.
Sponsored by the Y Love Jewish organization and the city of Aventura, the program takes place on the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht, when in 1938, Nazi leaders unleashed a series of pogroms against Jews in Germany.
“The program is not about the specifics of Kristallnacht, but is nevertheless powerful with music that expresses the feelings of several Canadian based female Holocaust survivors who wrote poems about the brutality, torture and impending doom for being murdered, along with their families,” said Dan Rosenberg, the narrator in the program and producer of the show.
The poetry emerged from multiple support group meetings arranged over the past decade by Toronto social worker Dr. Paula David to help elderly Holocaust survivors.
“It took a long time, but the Holocaust survivors opened up their feelings, without editing or fear about the horrors of dealing with the trauma of sexual violence, forced sterilization and mental torment by writing poetry,” said David.
Rosenberg felt strongly that the poetry could be set to music to produce powerful memoirs through music to strengthen the emotions expressed by the Holocaust survivors.
“The musical group ‘Payadora Tango Ensemble’ brought the poetry to life by the melodies created by violinist Rebekah Wolkstein and the album was released last January,” said Rosenberg.
The nine song album, all performed in Yiddish, was ranked number one earlier this year by the World Music Charts in Europe.
Singer Lenka Lichtenberg, who is both a daughter and granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, joins Payadora Tango Ensemble in performing the nine songs of “Silent Tears, The Last Yiddish Tango.”
The songs “A Victim of Mengele,” “Sabrina’s Letter: Some of Us Must Survive,” “Tell Me Where Can I Go” and “Don’t Let Us Starve” are specific and poignant.
“I felt as if I was a survivor in singing these songs, so I felt especially moved by the lyrical poetry in these songs. I was actually screaming in the song ‘A Victim of Mengele’ being frightened and expressing fear and sadness about the stories of how Mengele destroyed the lives of women with sexual exploitation,” said Lichtenberg.
The lyrics in “A Victim of Mengele," referring to the butchery of Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, infamously known for forced sterilization of women, featured phrases in the song as follows:
“I had to learn, eat and speak again. Will I learn to feel again?; They spread poison in my body while they stood and laughed, laughed, laughed;. Because of him, I am alone in the world.”
Another standout song is “Tell Me Where Can I Go.” The lyrics in the song are based on Holocaust survivor Molly Applebaum’s 2017 diary and memoir “Buried Words” describing how, as a 12- year- old child, she was buried underground with her older cousin on a small farm in Poland, with only a small hole from which she breathed.
“Molly wrote her diary from the farm where she was buried, describing not just physical deprivation, but also the loneliness and emotional deprivation she was experiencing,” said Rosenberg.
The phrases “Where shall I go when I’m buried underground?” “I live with dirt, bugs, feeling stuffy in a grave” and “Everyone has a place on earth except for two poor beings” illustrate the deep emotions of Molly Applebaum’s plight.
All songs in the show are in Yiddish, but will be performed with English subtitles.
“The timing of this performance is especially relevant,” said Avi Hoffman, a well-known South Florida based actor and founder of “Y Love Jewish” organization.
“The year 2023 is the mirror of the 1930s and ‘40s. With growing anti-Semitism, how we respond to the conflicts in the world is as crucial as ever. Having this program and continuing to affirm life is the best response to combat hate in the world,” said Hoffman.
- The city of Aventura and Y Love Jewish present “Silent Tears, The Last Jewish Tango”, a music program based on the poetry of several Canadian female Holocaust survivors, featuring Payadora Tango Ensemble and singer Lenka Lichtenberg on Sunday, November 5 at 2 pm at the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center, 3385 NE 188 Street in Aventura.
- Tickets range from $57-95.
- Tickets can be bought through Ticketmaster at 877-311-7469 or online at aventuracenter.org