Quantcast

Kaddish: Before the Holocaust and After by Jane Yolen

Source: Publisher
Paperback, 88 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Kaddish: Before the Holocaust and After by Jane Yolen is an exploration of loss that readers will be unable to turn away from. Readers must witness the devastating pain of the holocaust, but Yolen still holds out hope that violence is not the only solution to bullies and violence. In “What About Goliath,” Yolen explores David’s win over Goliath and asks, “Maybe there’s a better way/than slingshots, hot shots, mugshots./Better than becoming Goliath/ourselves.//” (pg. 7)

The poems in this collection explore generational loss and the brokenness that follows genocide. The stories of the dead are only kept alive by those who remember, but the perpetrators often have the luxury of seeing those stories as a past that they can rewrite or at least supplant with their own.

From "Holocaust Stories" (pg. 42)

...
We make it true again, truer,
because story sticks
when memory fails.
...

Yolen explores this in “Kristallnacht in Hamburg,” where her poem points out, “Not all Germans remember/this is the night./It is eighty years later,/their great grandparents’ sin,/only a story, a history,/they will have one of their own.// But still, we are all broken./But still, we are all glass.//” (pg. 25) We need to remember that we are all broken by violence. The people we thought our grandparents were when they cared for us, are those same people who harmed others out of hate. We are all part of that broken history. There is always that question in the shadows of how repairing what is broken will still show the cracks of the past.

Kaddish: Before the Holocaust and After by Jane Yolen is heartbreaking in its sincerity. Yolen’s poems provide a frank look at the Holocaust and after, particularly the absence of respect often shown at Holocaust remembrance locations, with teens smiling and laughing. The movement of time often makes memory hazy, which makes these stories all the more important. We need to hear these stories, feel the pain, and learn to move further away from the violence that leads to brokenness.

RATING: Cinquain