A Yom Hashoah message in music from Miriam Waks

April 17, 2015 by J-Wire News Service
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To mark the beginning of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) and it is with great pride that I share with you two previously unreleased pieces with which to mark the occasion.

The two pieces came about as a musical contribution to a Melbourne concert honouring the memory of the victims of the Białystok ghetto, Poland, which was liquidated in 1943.

The first piece is a traditional Jewish folk-song sung in Yiddish called Eli Eli (composed by Jacob Koppel Sandler) which I had the privilege of recording live in an 18th century French church with my uncle – none other than acclaimed classical cellist Nathan Waks.

I recommend listening to this piece first, click here to hear Eli Eli.


The second piece, entitled Ghosts of the Ghetto (Białystok, 1943) was specially composed by myself, Nathan, and his wonderfully talented son Sam Waks.

Ghosts of the Ghetto (Białystok, 1943) references two prominent Białystok musical personalities – tango composer Zygmunt Białostocki, and acclaimed opera singer Rosa Raisa, who often closed her recitals with Eli Eli (My God, why hast Thou forsaken me).

The piece utilizes elements of classical, tango, and electronic sound design to create a vividly rendered sonic and visual landscape.

A dark, and at times harrowing musical exploration of the atrocities of the holocaust, Ghosts of the Ghetto (Białystok, 1943) is ultimately a poignant reflection on the effects that blind prejudice and warfare have on the people and world we live in.

You can listen to Ghosts of the Ghetto (Białystok, 1943)



These releases are especially dear to me as they mark not only a deeply important moment in our shared history, but it is my first time recording in a classical vocal style and the first time I am presenting myself as a songwriter rather than just a vocalist. Writing this song was a very powerful experience, not only to collaborate with my family, but to connect with my own understanding of the holocaust, and express the grief I feel at every life so senselessly lost in the name of… what exactly?? We continue to live in a world where human life is devalued in the name of military, political, financial, religious, and racial motivations. The need is greater than ever to nurture within ourselves a shared empathy, love, and respect for our fellow human beings. Wishing you all health, happiness, and peace. With love, Miriam xx  Ghosts of the Ghetto (Białystok, 1943) Lyrics In dreams I return To the world I once knew Streets filled with homes And skies filled with blue

Ghosts of the ghetto

Cry out in sweet song

In praise of a place

To which we belonged

In praise of a place

Where our blood was not wrong


Too soon this sweet dream

Has retreated with sleep

Replaced by the sounds

Of the vigil we keep

The guards of our freedom


Have robbed us of slumber

The names that we claimed

Reduced to a number

We ghosts of the ghetto

Are just as you find

A memory of God’s love

Held hostage in time

A people once chosen

We are as you see

The ghosts of the ghetto

Whose blood now flows free


(Miriam Waks © 2015)


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