Born in Lodz in 1906, Isaiah Spiegel attended Hebrew and Yiddish schools as a boy, then trained at a teachers’ college. For a decade, he taught Yiddish and Jewish literature. With the arrival of the Nazi troops, he was among the many thousands penned in the ghetto of Lodz. There he wrote and buried a large number of ghetto stories. Although he survived Auschwitz, the rest of his family was wiped out. After the war he recovered his manuscripts and published them in three priceless volumes. He resumed his teaching career, but left Poland for Israel in 1951.

 

Ghetto Lullaby

 

Time now to shut your eyes;

out of the darkening skies

come birds, and at your cradle’s head they fly about.

The house is ash and brands –

with bundle in our hands

in search of shelter, darling, we set out.

 

The world’s been bolted down,

and night is all around –

Prepared to pounce with horror and with woe.

A wretched pair, we cower

here in a grim, grim hour

and where our path may lead we do not know.

 

They drove us, naked, forth

to wander south and north.

Into the fields of midnight we were hurled;

and hailstorms, blizzards wild

have followed you, my child,

followed you to the precipice of the world.

Isaiah Spiegel