“As long as the poems sound, the poets are alive…”

On August 11, 2022, the ANU Museum of the Jewish People hosted a poignant literary performance titled “We mourn you with all the letters Alef-beis…”. The event featured readings of poems and prose by writers who fell victim to the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee case 70 years ago, recited in both Russian and Yiddish. The memorial evening was organized by the International Yiddish Center at the World Jewish Congress and the NADAV Foundation.

Tragically, on August 12, 1952, 13 members of the committee were executed in Moscow, including the acclaimed actor and director of the State Jewish Theater in Moscow, Benjamin Zuskin, along with leading poets and writers in Yiddish. In the aftermath of the Anti-Fascist Committee case, hundreds of Jewish cultural figures were imprisoned, sent to GULAG, and subjected to torture. August 12th has become a symbol of the destruction of Jewish culture in the Soviet Union. However, the author of the idea and script of the play, Mordechai Yushkovsky, believes that “as long as the poems sound, the poets are alive…”. Therefore, on the 70th anniversary of the tragic event, excerpts of works by such prominent creators as Pepper Markish, Leib Kvitko, David Bergelson, and others were performed by actors of the “Malenky” Theater at the museum.

The evening was a moving tribute to the courage and artistic brilliance of these writers, whose voices were silenced but whose words continue to resonate. By bringing their works to life, the performance reminded us of the enduring power of literature and the importance of preserving cultural heritage.

Photo: Yael Ilinsky