THE FINAL INGREDIENT
[The women’s compound. The women are humming as if they are praying for the dead. Three women step forward. Another places her baby in a battered homemade rocker and begins to sing a lullaby. Soon all the women join in.]
Lullaby, lullaby, sleep, sleep, my baby, lullaby, lullaby ... Sleep in peace, my little child. Dream tonight, God will right all your sorrows, dear. Sleep, my little baby, hear our lullaby.
[The Guards in the tower rise.]
Singen Sie laut meine Damen. (Sing loudly, ladies.)
Singen Sie laut und lustig. (Sing loudly and merrily.)
Ich will etwas lustiges. (I want to hear something cheerful.)
Singen Sie laut, meine Damen, bitte lauter schöne Damen. (Sing loudly ladies, please; sing even louder, pretty ladies.)
They want us to sing. Do you hear them?
Well, we have sung before in captivity.
Sing to us the song of Zion. Sing us the Psalm of our people in captivity.
[The third woman begins singing Psalm 137 as the other women accompany her.]
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea we wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows on the midst thereof. For they that carried us away captive, they asked of us a song. And our tormentors asked of us mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion.” How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning if I do not remember thee.
O, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if I set not Jerusalem above my chief joy.
Remember, O Lord, against the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem who said raze it, raze it ... even to the foundation thereof.
Oh, daughter of Babylon that art to be destroyed, happy shall he be that repayeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the rock.
[The prison barracks. The door opens, and Max, Walter, Eli, and a fourth prisoner enter. They close the door and stand grouped in the doorway, exhausted and shocked at Aaron’s death. The other prisoners, barely able to move, crowd around them.]
Aaron is dead.
[Some of the prisoners lower their heads. Eli holds up the egg.]
He brought this back. They’ll be coming soon. Well, what are we waiting for? It’s time.
[Eli pulls open the door. The men follow him out into the darkness.]
[Max walks over to the bucket of soup and bread. He picks up the loaf, looks at it. He throws it away. The prisoners watch the bread hungrily but make no move.]
Any leaven which remains in my possession, and which I have not seen or removed, shall be as if it were not, and of no more account than the dust of the earth.
[Max walks out into the darkness. The others follow.]
[As the last of them came out, two prisoners carry the rabbi. A file of men approach from the other direction. They begin to form a large circle. They sit on the ground in the darkness, facing the center. Eli stands and walks to the center of the circle. He takes a package of yarmulkes made of crude scraps of cloth from his clothes. He puts one on his head and passes a few to one of the prisoners, who gives them out to the men.]
Our women made these for us. They expect that we shall wear them proudly.
[He hands the other yarmulkes to be passed around.]
Now this is our Passover seder! And no man will stop us from having it! We celebrate our people’s flight to freedom from Egypt and the bonds of slavery, as Jews have celebrated for thousands of years.
[Max walks to the center of the circle and takes out packages from underneath his jacket. He opens one and presents a thin, jagged cracker, which he holds up.]
As Jews have celebrated for thousands of years.
This is our unleavened bread, the bread of wretchedness, which our forefathers ate in Egypt. It was baked from a handful of stolen flour. Let those who are hungry enter and eat.
[Eli sets the packages down on the ground, and Max moves back in his place. Walter rises and walks to the center of the circle. He rips a clump of grass from the ground and holds it up.]
This is our bitter herb, the grass on which we walk in slavery as our fathers walked and wept in Egypt.
This is our Passover seder, and no man will stop us. Nothing will stop us tonight.
[Walter puts the grass down next to the matzas and walks back in place. The rabbi moves slowly to the center of the circle. He scoops up a handful of earth from the ground.]
This is our ḥaroset—not apples and cinnamon and nuts, but a handful of the earth to make us remember the clay with which our fathers in Egypt wrought bricks.
[The rabbi returns to his place as Felix comes to the center of the circle, holding the tin cans the old man had hidden. He then holds them up.]
This is our parsley, the fruit of the earth, for which we give thanks. There is no salt here. Each man will dip his parsley into the salt of his tears.
[Felix moves from the circle. Sigmund enters and holds up a wooden cup with water in it. He pulls a stem with three withered grapes from his pocket.]
Three grapes bought with the gold from our teeth.
[He holds the grapes over the cup and crushes them in his fist.]
This is our wine.
[Sigmund sets the cup next to the matzas and leaves the center of the circle. Eli enters and holds up a tiny bird’s egg. He holds it high for all to see, with dignity.]
This egg is the symbol of our immortality. Here tonight our Aaron gave his life that we might have it. Remember him until the day you die. Remember him.
[A squad of German soldiers approaches. Eli leaves the center of the circle, and the Old Man takes his place. He takes a piece of rope and holds it up.]
We sacrificed a lamb in Egypt once. We place a shank bone on our tables to remember this. Tonight a lamb was sacrificed. He was my son. My one and only son. This was his belt. This is our shank bone! Our Passover seder is ready. For tonight and for all times it is the symbol of freedom. This year our seder is held on the bloody earth of Belsen.
[Triumphantly shaking his fist at the guard]
L’shana haba, birushalayim! (Next year in Jerusalem!)
L’shana haba, birushalayim!
Next year in Jerusalem! Sing praises to God, begin our song tonight with Yigdal, the hymn of rejoicing.
[All the prisoners sing this ancient prayer of rejoicing in Hebrew as the German guards watch in silence.]
yigdal elohim hai v’yishtabaḥ,
nimtza v’ein et el m’tziuto.
eḥod v’ein yaḥid k’yiḥudo,
ne’lam v’gam ein sof l’aḥduto.
ein lo d’mut haguf v’eino guf,
lo na’aroḥ elayv k’dushato.
kadmon l’khol davar asher nivra,
rishon v’ein reshit l’reshito.
hino adon olam l’khol notzar
yore g’dulato u’malkhuto.
shefa n’vuato n’tano,
el anshei s’gulato v’tifarto.
lo kam b’yisra’el k’moshe od,
navi umabit et t’munato
torat emet natan l’amo el,
al yad n’vi’o ne’eman beito.
lo yaḥalif ha’el v’lo yamir dato,
tzofe v’yode’a s’sareinu,
mabit l’sof davar b’kadmato.
gomel l’ish ḥesed k’mifalo,
noten l’rasha ra k’rishato.
yishlaḥ l’ketz ha’yomin m’shiḥenu,
lifdot m’ḥakei ketz y’shuato.
metim yha’ye el b’rov ḥasdo,
barukh adei ad shem t’hilato.
(We exalt and praise the presence of the living God;
His existence and being transcend all time—was, is and will forever be.
His essence is unity—His uniqueness lies in His oneness, He is unlike any other unity;
That oneness is inscrutable and without end.
He has no physical form—nor anything even corresponding to form;
His holiness is incomparable; His holiness is unimaginable.
He preexisted all of His creations—
Was and always has been the beginning, the first of all that ever was.
He is the Master of all creation;
All creatures reflect His dominion and majesty.
He abundantly shared His prophecy with His beloved and treasured people.
Never among Israel has anyone appeared who could in greatness compare with Moses, our prophet,
Whose closeness to God exceeded that of all others.
God gave to His people a Torah of truth
Through the agency of His faithful prophet, Moses.
God neither amends His law nor changes its character;
His precepts remain forever, for eternity.
He searches out and understands our deepest and most hidden secrets;
He knows every ending at its very beginning.
He rewards the pious according to their deeds,
And repays evildoers in proportion to their guilt.
He will send our messiah at the End of Days,
To bring redemption to those who faithfully wait.
With the greatest of loving-kindness God will bring the dead to eternal life;
Praised be His glorious name for all eternity.)