Media Release: Murdered poets speak again

Los Angeles, California and Wellington, New Zealand
10 May 2024

The Song Remains, an online anthology of over 160 Yiddish poems by 36 authors with English translations, will be launched on 20 May at 12 noon PDT / 21 May 7am NZST in an online event. 

You can register to attend the free online event at

The poems were written in Nazi-occupied Poland during the Second World War, compiled by Binem Heller, and published in Warsaw in 1951. The collection holds the treasure of creative poetry written by people who were imprisoned, starved, and ultimately murdered. The poems cover a wide range of themes, from the light-hearted love of nature, to the trials of coming of age in the Ghetto, and ultimately trying to come to terms with hatred, destruction, and death. The English translations are by Dr Sarah Traister Moskovitz, a 96 year old native Yiddish speaker and professor emerita from California State University, Northridge.

The site will publish one poem per week in both English and Yiddish over the next three years. Visitors can subscribe to receive these poems for free by email at

Only a small number of these poems have been available online before, and fewer translated into English.

The project launch is proudly supported by The Yiddish Book Center, UCLA, Victoria University of Wellington / Te Herenga Waka, the California Institute for Yiddish Culture and Language, the Workmen’s Circle, the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand, the Committee for Yiddish, and Kehillat Israel.

Dr Moskovitz hopes that the collection will be a lasting legacy for the Yiddish language, and a tribute to the poets and unique culture so brutally destroyed by the Nazis. She says, “We can all be proud and strengthened by the writers in this collection of poems, who found their own strength and courage in the worst circumstances imaginable. And yet, despite everything, they were still able to create beautiful, creative, meaningful, and honest poetry.”

The Yiddish language is endangered, and according to Dr Moskovitz, “circling the drain”. Before the Holocaust, Yiddish was the most common language used daily among Jews with nearly 11 million speakers. Now, it is thought that there are only about 500,000 Yiddish speakers left in the world, mainly in ultra-Orthodox communities in Israel and the United States.

Miriam Ulinover Y L Kohn Borekh Gelman

One of the poets, Miriam Ulinover, was one of only a very few Orthodox Jewish women poets in prewar Europe. Her works include “At the door”, about a young woman standing outside a tavern, “The cherry”, and “The ring”. She lived in Łódź, and was transported to Auschwitz during the liquidation of the Łódź ghetto. She was gassed and incinerated a few days later.

Another poet, Y L Kohn, a metal worker from Warsaw, was a Communist who retained unbreakable optimism about the future expressed in his poem “My way through life”. He was shot and killed in Russia in 1941.

Borekh Gelman was born near Vilnius, but spent much of his life in Warsaw. His poem “My boss’s clock” is a humorous take on clockwatching and the imbalance of power in the workplace. When the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, he escaped to Vidzy, Belarus, but was killed there with his five brothers and sisters in a pogrom in 1941.

The website is hosted in Wellington, New Zealand by Catalyst Cloud. It was built and is maintained by Dave Moskovitz, a local Jewish Community leader who is also co-chair of the Wellington Abrahamic Council of Jews, Christians and Muslims, chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network NZ, and a Director of MetService.

Learn more at:

Many thanks to our Launch partners:


Sample poems from the collection:

My Way Through Life
Y L Kohn

My way through life, was through
years of injustice and bitter suffering and anger
In my young life I struggled through
years of epidemics and hunger

Today my way is through unemployment
days of disappointment, rough bad times
But I don’t give up, I’m unbroken
and hold myself together  –  I will remain

And I know that life can sometimes take you
with its nails at your throat and choke you
I hope to break through each and every time
and I hope that I can help you

מײן װעג דורכן לעבן
י. ל. קאָהן

מײן װעג דורכן לעבן, ז’װא קװער־שניט דורך לײדן,
דורך יאָרן פון אומרעכט און ביטערן צאָרן;
איך בין אדורכגעגאַנגען מיט מײן יונגן לעבן,
דורך מגפות און דורך הונגער־יאָרן.

הײנט ציט מײן װעג זיך דורך יאָרן אָן אַרבעט,
דורך טעג, װאָס דערשלאָגן, צעברעכן, צערײבן.
נאָר כ’גיב זיך נישט אונטער, איך ברעך זיך נישט אײן
און גאנץ װי איך בין — כ’װעל פארבלײבן.

און כ’װײס, אז נישט אײנמאָל װעט ס’לעבן א כאַפּ טאָן
פארן האַלדז מיך מיט נעגל און װערגן — נאָר נײן!
איך האָף אז כ’װעל יעדן נסיון צעברעכן,
איך האָף אז אלצדינג װעל איך בײשטײן.

A Cloud
Shloyme Burshteyn  

A cloud hung his tears on my window
and clothed me in his fears
If I were a small crying gray cloud
then someone would see my tears
But I’m not a cloud
no one sees my grief
And my tears have no power to reach
anyone’s windows

א װאָלקן
שלמה בושטײן

ס’האָט אַ װאָלקן אױפגעהאָנגען זיין געוויין אויף מיינע שויבן
און מיר אָנגעטאָן זיין טרויער.
װאָלט איך אַ גרויער, וויינענדיקער װאָלקן געווען,
װאָלט עמעץ אפשר אויך מיינע טרערן דערזען,
בין איך נישט קיין װאָלקן…
זעט קיינער נישט מיין פּיין,
און ס’גרייכן מיינע טרערן נישט צו קיינעמס שויבן…

The Ring
Miriam Ulinover

“Never ever take this off
Not in joy or sadness
unless you are washing
to eat a piece of bread.”

I wear it, yes, this little ring
Your stone is faded now
There is no reason for me to wash
No reason now at all

Treasured like an eye
I’d never remove this ring
my feet will never wander anywhere
near the palace of the king

Parted from this ring I will never choose
My heart could not survive
Tighter smaller grows my life
And the ring has now grown loose

דאָס רינגל
מרים אולינאָװער

„קײנמאַל זאָלסטו עס נישט אױסטאָן,
נישט אין פרײד, אין נױט,
סײדן אַז דו װעסט זיך װאַשן
צו אַ שטיקל ברױט“…

כ’טראָג עס, כ’טראָג עס, ס’קלײנע רינגל,
ס’שטײנדעלע דײן בלאָס —
זיך צו װאַשן, באָבע־לעבן,
איז נישטאָ צו װאָס…

נאָר דערפאַר האָב איך דאָס רינגל
װי אַן אױג געשױנט, —
נישט פארבלאָנדזשעט האָט מײן פיסל
װו דער מלוה װױנט.

זיך צו שײדן פון דעם רינגל
טראָגט דאָס האַרץ נישט אױס…
ענגער, ענגער װערט דאָס לעבן,
און דאָס רינגל לױז.


For more information, contact
Dave Moskovitz
Tel: +64 27 220 2202  /  +1 (213) 537 2202
[email protected]

Additional media:

Dr Sarah Traister Moskovitz