Tuesday evening at sundown marks the beginning of Yom Kippur, which means the “Day of Atonement.” It’s considered the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. Because it is a solemn observance, there is a prescribed time to reflect upon life, and to honor the memory of loved ones.
Yizkor is the Hebrew word for “remembrance.” And during Yom Kippur, part of the day is set aside for Yizkor. This dedicated part of the service is considered one of the most recognized times to remember the deceased. Though Yizkor is meant to honor the memory of close relatives, in more recent decades, many congregations acknowledge the memory of the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust.
Eugene Drucker, the violinist and founding member of the Emerson Quartet, wrote a novel set during the Holocaust, called “The Savior.” In the novel, Gottfried Keller, a young German violinist, is driven to a concentration camp to participate in an experiment: he must play music for the prisoners of the camp to see if he can bring any vitality and hope back to their lives, merely as a scientific exercise on the will to live.
The book is not new, but its setting and theme of music as redemption seemed appropriate for the occasion. You can hear Drucker’s conversation with Lois Reitzes in the above interview.
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