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Elegy for My Shtetl

by S. L. Shneiderman and Marius Sznajderman

ELEGY FOR MY SHTETL

It is dying--my home--the impoverished shtetl
Hidden there on the shore of the Vistula,
And long dead are the last Reb Shloimes
Who drove massive rafts down to Danzig.

They are falling apart, the misshapen houses
Grandfathers built from oak logs.
The sun is setting on their roofs,
Pouring bloody red on the green moss.

The synagogue is sinking deeper and deeper
And mold blooms on the frescoed walls.
We can still make out a lion's head
And pale hands raised in priestly benediction.

-S.L. Shneiderman, 1938

Click here for the poem in Yiddish.

The family and friends of S.L. Shneiderman published this lithograph, Elegy for My Shtetl in honor of his 80th birthday (1986), to celebrate his distinguished career as a Yiddish poet and journalist in 1988. Mr. Shneiderman wrote the poem Elegy for My Shtetl in 1938, in Paris. "The poem was like a premonition of the imminent Nazi Holocaust that destroyed hundreds ofshtetlech on the banks of the Vistula, including my hometown, Kazimierz, where Jewish life had flourished for many generations and Yiddish was the spoken language," Mr. Shneiderman said. 

The lithograph was executed by Marius Sznajderman, painter, printer, and nephew of Mr. Shneiderman. It shows a view of Kazimierz interpreted from pre-World War II photographs. Born in Paris in 1926, Mr. Sznajderman escaped with his parents from France in November of 1942 and lived in Venezuela until 1949 at which time he moved to the United States. He studied at the School of Fine Arts in Caracas and at Columbia University. In Caracas, he was a founding member of Taller Libre de Arte. In his 40 years as an artist, he has had numerous one-man shows in the USA and South America and his work is in the permament collections of many important museums.