Sweet Noise: Love in Wartime

Warsaw Jewish Cemetery

An open-air exhibit at the Jewish cemetery in Warsaw is made up of dozens of embedded photos of children killed in the Holocaust. On a wall above the photos is a poem by Henryka Łazowertówka written in 1941:
Through a hole, through a crack or a cranny
Starving yet stubborn and canny
Sneaking and speedy like a cat
I daily risk my youthful neck
And if fate will turn against me
In that game of life and bread
Do not weep for me mother; do not cry
Are we not all marked to die?
Only one worry besets me
Lying in agony; so nearly dead
Who’ll care for you tomorrow
Who’ll bring you, dear mom,
A slice of bread.


Nożyk Synagogue

Prior to World War II, the Jewish community of Warsaw had over 400 houses of prayer; after the war, only one remained. Close to their headquarters in the Hotel Bristol, the Gestapo spared Nożyk Synagogue from destruction and put the sanctuary into use as the stable for their horses. 
Part of a minyan in July, 1993, I sat in the last pew waiting for the sounds of the men gathered around me to drown out the sound of the shutter. In this photo from Sweet Noise: Love in Wartime, my mother—visible on the left—had climbed the stairs to the second floor, the tradtitional way of separating men and women in Orthodox Judaism. 


Hotel Bristol

The Hotel Bristol, an opulent architectural blend of Art Nouveau and Neo-Renaissance design, opened in Warsaw in 1901. Chosen as the headquarters for the Gestapo while the rest of central Warsaw was reduced to rubble, the imposing structure was spared from destruction. This photo of Pawel Owczarek, a hotel bellman, is one of nearly forty from Sweet Noise: Love in Wartime, my upcoming book about my parents’ life as Holocaust survivors navigating the challenges of the American immigration system.