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Saturday, April 30, 2022


by Donna Katzin

"Der Shteyn” in Yiddish means “the stone.” April 19, 2022 marked the 79th anniversary of the beginning of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which lasted for 27 days, as Nazis launched their final liquidation of the largest Jewish ghetto in Nazi-occupied Europe. 7,000 Jews died. News of the uprising spread quickly, giving hope and strength to others struggling to survive and resist. Each year on this date, the survivor community and friends gather at the stone—a memorial marker in New York City’s Riverside Park—to honor the fighters and the fallen, commemorate the uprising, and inspire resistance to the fascist, racist and other oppressive forces of our own times.

On our lapels,
we pin paper daffodils—
yellow like stars.
Together we revisit the stone
asleep in silence, scarcely seen,
through summer, autumn, winter,
waiting by the unwavering river
that warms to an uncertain sun
as wind holds back its tears.
Our grey heads bow,
as we receive the letters
from London and Melbourne,
words of solidarity from Warsaw
somehow still shrouded
in smoke and ash.
This year we honor women
couriers who carried messages
and money in their inner garments,
revolvers in their handbags, passed
with borrowed accents between ghettos,
harbored hope, smuggled life.
Our lips recite
the Hymn of the Partisans
in a language I have forgotten,
as we place blossoms on the stone,
listen for the voices that will rise
as long as we remember.

Donna Katzin is the former and founding executive director of Shared Interest, a fund that mobilizes the human and financial resources of low-income communities of color in South and Southern Africa.  A board member of Community Change in the U.S., and co-coordinator of Tipitapa Partners working in Nicaragua, she has written extensively about South Africa, community development and impact investing.  Published in journals and sites including The New Verse News and The Mom Egg, she is the author of With the Hands, a book of poems and photographs about post-apartheid South Africa’s process of giving birth to itself.