altThe celebrations of the 65th Anniversary of the Liquidation of the Litzmannstadt Ghetto by the Germans have just ended. The culminating point was a concert in the Grand Theatre. Apart from the guests of honor, the Righteous and the Survivors with their families, also the MP’s, city and county officials and partner cities officials were present. The celebrations started with the Hawdala. It is a prayer for the end of the Sabbath. It was performed by two world-famous cantors: Benzion Miller and Moshe Schulhof along with the Chief of the Jewish Community in Lodz, Symcha Keller and a Litzmannstadt ghetto survivor Jehuda Widawski.

After the Israeli and Polish national anthems were performed, the mayor of Lodz Jerzy Kropiwnicki spoke to the guests. He reminded them of the history of the German-occupied Lodz, fate of its Jewish inhabitants and the tragedy of the Litzmannstadt Ghetto. Mayor underlined the fact that this year’s celebrations were above all dedicated to the Survivors and to the Righteous who were saving the Jews during the war. In occupied Poland helping the Jews were most harshly punished if compared to other European countries. It was not uncommon that whole families or even their neighbors were sent to death. Despite obvious risks almost 400 thousand Polish decided to take active part in helping the Jews.

The concert consisted of two performances. First there was a world premiere of “Kaddish-to All Lodz Abrameks Who Desired to Live and to the Poles Who Saved the Jews", especially written by maestro Krzysztof Penderecki on that special occasion. It is a tribute to the children victims of the Shoah and to all Poles that were saving their Jewish neighbors during the war. Abram Cytryn’s (a young ghetto poet murdered in Auschwitz) poems, Kaddish prayer and the citations from Jeremiah’s Lament based on the Gdansk edition of the Bible and the Book of Daniel from Wujek’s edition of the Bible were all used as an inspiration for the composer. A touching oratorio for the victims and the survivors was created. The solo soprano part was performed by Olga Pasiecznik whereas the narrative parts were performed by the tenor Alberto Mizrahi and Daniel Olbrychski.

Photos Andrzej S. Stanisławski

The second performance – Penderecki’s Seventh Symphony “Seven Gates of Jerusalem” was the main part of the celebrations. It was composed for the celebrations of the 3000 years of erection of Jerusalem. The maestro used some unique instruments that has a imitate and distinctive sound of antic ritual horns – shofars and invented new ones that he calls tubaphones.  

Solo parts of the composition were performed by the sopranists Izabela Matula and Izabela Klosinska, mezzosopranist Agnieszka Rehlis, tenor Adam Zdunikowski, and bass Piotr Nowacki. Alberto Mizrahi was the narrator and the orchestra was conducted by Krzysztof Penderecki himself. The Grand Theatre and Lodz Philharmonics companies were responsible for the musical part. The vocal parts were performed by choirs of Grand Theatre, Lodz Philharmonics and Opera Podlaska. The concert was a major experience for the audience, especially for the Survivors of the Litzmannstadt Ghetto and the Righteous of the World. Thanks to TV Toya’s broadcasting 1500 Lodz citizens were able to watch the concert on a special screen outside the theatre.