Poetry by Temple Beth-El

Temple Beth-El

Hillsborough, New Jersey
Confirmation Academy
Lisa Friedman and Sarah Gluck, Directors of Education


Read the 2020 Holocaust Workshop Student Poetry:

 Morristown High School, Morristown, New Jersey
Kehilat Shalom, Belle Meade, New Jersey
• Maarif School USA, Bloomfield, New Jersey
• St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Edison, New Jersey

To the Soldier

Lila Starks
Grade 8 Age 14

I want to know why
you are your gun.
Is it out of ignorance,
or is it simply pure malice?

The lives of millions
completely disregarded
A single shot fired
they are now forgotten to you.

Why do you let them put a gun in your hand?
when you are as blind as a man in the grave.
Why do you choose to conquer?
when it kills your own self.

You choose to fire a bullet
You choose to break our spirits
We will stay strong
Fight through to the end.

I want to know why
you have chosen this path.
Is it because you’re scared?

Or simply drowned in pure hatred?

I Watched

Alex Russo
Grade 9 Age 15

As I (stood)
Armed

I watched.
I watched

boys and girls.
I watched

men and women.

I watched
as they took
their final steps.

I watched
as they took their final breaths.

I watched
loved ones
lay eyes on
each other for a final time.

I watched their final tears—

They watched.

They watched me
as I did nothing.

They watched me
in their final moments.

They watched as the void swallowed me.
They watched as I lost hope.
They watched my end

just as I watched theirs.

Woman, the Nameless Onlooker, to the Nazi Soldier

Jill Zady
Grade 8 Age 13

Do you want to help him?
The poor boy before your eyes?
No longer living in safety
of a child’s innocence
and soon no longer living—at all?

But of course, you want to help him.

But you can’t.

You can only watch
Weighted down
by the chains of the Nazis’ cruelty.

You were thinking
Oh, he’s so young
So full of potential
Why must he die so soon?

You think this as you close your eyes.

When you open them once more . . .

The flower had withered away

As quickly as it had flourished.

To the Nazi Soldier

Sean Maizel
Grade 8 Age 13

I wonder what sense of patriotism was so strong in you
That you acted upon orders without question or thought

Your beloved country was struggling
And you were promised the world
That revitalization only required
Your unwavering cooperation.
The promise of a strong and perfect society was tantalizing
But the guilt after the fact was immeasurable.

An undying rage that was carefully woven
Into the greatest political lie.
I should hate you for supporting the death
Of innocents,
But I feel sorry.

Your post war guilt is beyond all
And your actions are terrible beyond all
But you were taken advantage of, innocent

And I won’t make the same mistake as you.

The Soldier

Emily Dickholtz
Grade 9, Age 14

My mind is numb
Gripping to the last
Scrap of humanity.
I lead them to their deaths
But I am lost, too deep
In this abyss.
Broken.
Brainwashed to think like
Everyone else
But I stand alone.
Broken.
Am I truly meant
to kill them off as if
they were bugs?
Broken.
What I wish I was
Instead of (participating)
In the (genocide).
Lost.
A sea of regret drowns me,
Takes me from my soul.
But what soul?
I have taken the life from
Myself because of Him.
He ruined them.
He ruined us.
He ruined me.
And this will end
With Him and me.

To the Little Polish Boy--We See You Now

Sam Stark
Grade 10 Age 15

The treading feet never ends
Yet for all the people that take their march
Not a single step has the world heard.
Countless is the procession of souls
But not a single one counted
Misery dictates time and days without
A single smile spared
Lives who suffered daily
Cycles of abuse and trauma
Without a single tear shed
The number of tales from each
too great and inconceivable,
still untold.

But worry not little Polish boy,
For that has now changed.
Your steps have been heard
Your life has been acknowledged
Smiles have been sent in memory
A flood of tears have been shed for your sake
And your story has been spread and told.
We see you now. . .