Yoysef Vaynberg (1908 – )

Yoysef Vaynberg, later known as Joseph Weinberg, was born on September 5th. 1908 in Strzyzow, a part of Galicia, Poland. Yoysef’s life, born into a devout Jewish and prospering Family gave him a good start into a life that was to become severely threatened by Hitler’s penchant for anti-Jewish hatred. When Yoysef graduated from high school and went on to study philosophy at Lvov University, it becomes recognisable that his words became a philosophy he could live by.  

Eventually, confined into the Ghetto in Lvov, and on and into the Concentration Camp at Janowska, the trials for Yoysef during the entire period of World War II, was as traumatic as it was devastatingly brutal. However, Yoysef managed to escape and toward the end of 1942, he was living a freer life in the woods, hidden from Nazi view. This was not to last and Yoysef was caught in 1943 and he deported toward Auschwitz and Birkenau. Liberation finally for him came in 1945 and he returned to an unwelcoming Poland where he was active in the local Zionist movement in Lower Silesia. 

Finally unable to remain in the Country of his Birth, Yoysef left Poland for France and in 1947 he was living settling into life in Paris. Here he became a member of the central committee of the World Organization of General Zionists and was cofounder of the Free Association of Former Deportees. When he began writing about his experiences in the camps, about the forms of resistance that were open to many Jews, and while any form of resistance was punishable by Death, forms of resistance could be undertaken. 

While physical resistance was not a realistic prospect for most of the Jewish People during The Holocaust, and while many Jews fought back relentlessly, not all Jews could choose to do so. Family and circumstance dictated how little manouverability was available to the Jewish presence in all of Europe. But some Jews have seen within this preservation of religious practices, and in the most unimaginable of circumstances, it forms what has been termed ‘spiritual resistance’. 

This was a defiant defence of the Jewish Religious, Spiritual and Communal traditions which the Nazis were also seeking to destroy. With plunder on their minds, Hitler and his Nazi cohort not only resorted to plunering all or as many Jews as they could from all existence, the debris of their lives could be mocked, stolen and then profitted from With all else thrown at the Jews of Europe, hope remained the tangible link to their long suffering journey through our History alongside them.

“..After the evening roll call ..we go to Kol Nidre. For a long time already we have been promising each other to observe ..Kol Nidre service this year. A Jewish block elder has allowed us to pray in his block. Someone has brought a tallis ..from ..clothing warehouse. ..seriousness of ..moment is felt in ..camp. It seems that ..entire world is preparing for Kol Nidre. In ..morning ..entire sky was clouded over. At midday ..cloud rose and it rained. ..sun hid somewhere behind ..clouds. Heaven wept for an entire afternoon. Now ..before Kol Nidre ..it calmed itself a bit ..rain stopped. ..world around lies desolate. ..sun feels guilty and doesn’t dare to show its face. From every block ..people assembled at ..barrack of ..Jewish block elder. People stretch out on ..pallets ..stand pressed next to one another. Everyone who feels a Jewish heart beating inside has come ..even ..block elders and kapos. They are always ..grand aristocrats. Now they are standing among ..ordinary prisoners. They are possessed by dread. Even ..German block elders and kapos ..those terrible murderers are silent. They avoid ..barrack ..moving in a large semicircle around it. Today ..they have somehow grown afraid of ..Jews. ..Rabbi prays.” Yoysef Vaynberg.

All too many Jews Jews had succumbed to the inordiante pressure of the destructive Nazi capacity to deliver them toward extinction. In the meantime, many Jews sought refuge in their belief system as they awaited their fate and many Jews found their hope for humanity tied up in the basics of a dignity they exemplified. For Yoysef, who gives us an insight into such spiritual resistance, as he recalls an occasion in Birkenau on Yom Kippur, 1944. For the Jewish People in their faith, the Kol Nidrei, All Vows is a religious prayer sung and performed as a part in the complete Yom Kippur service.

The Kol Nidrei.

#Light is sown for the righteous and for the upright in heart joy

With the consent of the Almighty,

With the consent of the Almighty,

With the consent of the Almighty,

and consent of this congregation,

in a convocation of the heavenly court,

and a convocation of the lower court,

we hereby grant permission to pray with transgressors

All vows, and things we have made forbidden on ourselves, and oaths,

and items we have consecrated to the Temple,

and vows issued with the expression “konum,”

and vows which are abbreviated,

and vows issued with the expression “kanos,”

that we have vowed, and sworn, and dedicated, and made forbidden upon ourselves;

from this Yom Kippur until next Yom Kippur

may it come to us at a good time

We regret having made them may they all be permitted forgiven, eradicated and nullified,

and may they not be valid or exist any longer.

Our vows shall no longer be vows, and our prohibitions shall no longer be prohibited, and our oaths are no longer oaths.

Forgive the entire congregation

Forgive the entire congregation

Forgive the entire congregation of the children of Yisrael

and the stranger amongst them for the entire people sin unintentionally.

Please pardon the sins of this nation in accordance with the greatness of Your loving kindness;

and as You forgave this people from when it left Egypt until now. And there it is said:

And Adonai said

And Adonai said

And Adonai said I have pardoned them as you have asked.”

For me, the principles recalled in The Kol Nidrei are such, and I have explore their words to find that common humanity can easily endorse all that is to be stated within it, as surely as light is sown for the righteous. For any Jew to have uphold any single principle open to thm, during this time of The Holocaust, during their most urgent need to seek and expect support, is a monumental ask for mere mortals But, and it must be true that for the upright in heart there will be joy, though I fear it is not in the remit of anyone other than the People themselves.

Crucially, all People, and no matter their religious or political views are avowed to deliver for all, even those things they have forbidden to themselves. We take oaths which are all too often shelved and ignored in favour of doing what it is that plaeased us most. We are either dedicated to the lives of others or we are inwardly seething at a selfishness or greed that will ultimately digest us from within. We live to regret having made the promises we no longer keep, or we step aside while another Human Being is forced to struggle, and this attaacks the conscience we either own or we disavow ourselves of. 

Though not born at the time, for me to state clearly what I would have done to assist any 1 of the 6,000,000 in need of our help, I cannot say equivocally. But what I can stress is in the knowledge that I would not have betrayed my fellow Man, Woman or Child simply because they were Jews. From such vantage point as History has given to me, I may be permitted to venture that no one shall be forgiven by anyone for those 6,000,000 Jews so clearly eradicated from all existence. 

What is a verifiable truth, forgiveness is totally nullified by the lack of a presence from those whose forgiveness must be sought, and their ashes have no space to utter words let alone the deed of forgiveness others too readily offer in their stead. It may that my words, contentious as they may be, they may not be valid in a spiritually religious setting, but for 6,000,000 Slaughter Jews who do Not exist any longer, surely it is their place to forgive what we witness as the unforgiveable.

For these all too many Jews, whose vows to live and to deliver life to others, these shall no longer be vows amidst our own prohibitions as to the sanctity of life. Wasted are the Children of Yisrael, and there are the strangers amongst them who add a further measure to the atrocity for the entire people, even when they are unintentionally the victims. It is abundantly clear that not all the victims were Jews, but those intentionally victimes and sought out for Slaughter were all Jews. So please, there can be pardon for the sins, transgressions and genocide of this German nation whose participation in The Holocaust is a perpetration that is abominable to all of mankind.