(Bais Yaakov Movement)
Table of Contents
- Ninety-Three Daughters of Israel (08/11/1942)
- 93 Choose Suicide (Yiddish)
- 93 choose suicide before Nazi shame (01/08/1943)
- Seminary (03/14/1971)
- Chaya's Dance (04/08/1999)
- Israel - The Myth of the 93 Cracow Girls Who Took Their Lives in the Holocaust Exposed (04/07/2009)
Ninety-Three Daughters of Israel
By Chaya Feldman
August 11, 1942
We washed our bodies
and we grew clean;
we purified our souls
and we grew quiet.
Death does not terrify us;
we go out to meet him.
We served God while we were alive
and now we can best serve our people
by refusing to be taken alive.
We made a covenant of the heart,
all the ninety-three;
together we learned
and together we will meet our end.
As I write these words
the hour is upon us:
barely enough time to write down this prayer ...
Brethren, wherever you are,
honor the Torah we lived by
and the Psalms we loved.
Read them for us, as well as for you,
and someday when the Beast
has hunted his last prey,
we hope somebody will say Kaddish for us:
ninety-three daughters of Israel.
In 1943 Meir Shenkolevsky, the secretary of the world Bais Yaakov movement and a member of the Central Committee of Agudas Israel in New York, received a letter from Chaya Feldman: "I don't know when you will get this letter and if you still will remember me. When this letter arrives, I will no longer be alive. In a few hours, everything will be past. We are here in four rooms, 93 girls ages 14 to 22, all of us Bais Yaakov teachers. On July 27, Gestapo agents came, took us out of our apartment and threw us into a dark room. We only have water to drink. The younger girls are very frightened, but I comfort them that in a short while, we will be together with our mother Sara [Sara Shnirer, the founder of the Bais Yaakov Seminary]. Yesterday they took us out, washed us and took all our clothes. They left us only shirts and said that today, German soldiers will come to visit us. We all swore to ourselves that we will die together. The Germans don't know that the bath they gave us was the immersion before our deaths: we all prepared poison. When the soldiers come, we will drink the poison. We are all saying Viduy throughout the day. We are not afraid of anything. We only have one request from you: Say Kaddish for 93 bnos Yisroel! Soon we will be with our mother Sara. Signed, Chaya Feldman from Cracow."
New York Times - Jan. 8, 1943
New York Times - March 14, 1971
Margot Brown, Beverly Hills, CA writes that the poem describing a mass suicide of girls in a Warsaw seminary during the German occupation, sought by L.G. on Feb. 7, was written by the late Hebrew poet Hillel Bavli. "The Letter of the Ninety-Three Maidens" was based on a letter by Haya Feldmen, one of the 93 pupils and teachers at the Beth jacob School who decided to commit suicide rather than yield to the Nazi soldiers.
Following is the first part of the poem:
We cleansed our bodies and we are pure,
We cleansed our spirits and are at peace.
Death does not frighten us,
We shall meet it calmly.
We served God with our life,
We shall know how to hallow his name in death,
A solemn covenant binds the ninety-three of us.
Together we studied God's Torah,
Together we shall die.
Dora E. Landes, Elkins Park, PA; Gershon and Brenda Bacon, New York; Morris Silverman, New York; and Rabbi Ira Eisenstein, New York, are among readers who responded to this query.
VosIzNiez - April 27, 2009