Am Yisrael Chai

By Rosensaft, Menachem Z. | Midstream, July-August 2008 | Go to article overview

Am Yisrael Chai


Rosensaft, Menachem Z., Midstream


Shlomo Carlebach's rousing "Am Yisrael Chai, Od Avinu Chai," "the people of Israel lives, our father still lives," has become one of the most popular, identity-affirming contemporary Jewish songs. But the second phrase, in its original form, was not an exclamation but a question. When he finally revealed himself to his brothers in Egypt, Joseph asked, "Od Avinu Chai?" Does our father still live? Why did Carlebach combine these two verses? Perhaps became Joseph needed to know whether he could be reunited with his father, Israel, before he could affirm that the people of Israel lived on.

When the remnant of European Jewry emerged from the death camps, forests and hiding places throughout Europe in the winter and spring of 1945, they looked for their families and, overwhelmingly, discovered that their fathers and mothers, their husbands, wives and children, their brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins, had all been murdered by the Germans and their accomplices. And yet, even though their question to the world, "Od Avinu Chai?" had a devastatingly negative answer, they declared that "Am Yisrael Chai," the people of Israel not only had not been destroyed but defiantly remained alive.

From almost the moment of their liberation, the Holocaust survivors' affirmation of their national identity in the Displaced Persons camps of Germany, Austria, and Italy took the form of a political and spiritually redemptive Zionism. The creation of a Jewish state in what was then Palestine was far more than a practical goal. It was the one ideal that had not been destroyed, and that allowed them to retain the hope that an affirmative future, beyond gas chambers, mass-graves, and ashes was still possible for them.

Bergen-Belsen, the largest of the DP camps, was in the British Zone of Germany. There, the survivors elected a Jewish leadership, headed by my father, Josef Rosensaft, who made Zionism the order of the day. At the first Congress of Liberated Jews in the British Zone, convened in September 1945 in Belsen by my father and his colleagues without permission from the British military authorities, the survivors formally adopted a resolution calling for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, and expressing their

   Sorrow and indignation that almost six months after liberation,
   we still find ourselves in guarded camps on British soil
   soaked with the blood of our people. We proclaim that we
   will not be driven back into the lands, which have become
   the graveyards of our people.

In December 1945, my father told the leadership of American Jewry assembled at the first post-war conference of the United Jewish Appeal in Atlantic City, according to a report in The New York Herald Tribune, that the survivors' sole hope was emigration to Palestine, the only place in the world "willing, able, and ready to open its doors to the broken and shattered Jews of war-ravaged Europe. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Am Yisrael Chai
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.