Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Holocaust and Hip-Hop

It's becoming increasingly uncommon to meet a Holocaust survivor. Many have already passed, and those who are still with us are now senior citizens. I am therefore fortunate to have an internship during our final years with survivors.

Today, I learned that I will finally meet an Auschwitz survivor next week. Although I am ecstatic about this possibility, the opportunity is a bit unusual--or, perhaps more appropriately, unexpected.

From 1941 to 1945, Esther Bejarano, a Jewish woman from Germany, was a prisoner in the Nazi concentration camp system. Like many Jewish Holocaust victims, Esther found herself in Auschwitz in 1943, where she was a part of the Maedchenorchester (girl's orchestra). Esther played with this band every morning when the worker columns marched out of the camp and when new detainees were funnelled into gas chambers. This work, although ghastly, eventually saved Esther's life. After liberation, Esther emigrated to Palestine where she lived for fifteen years. Then, in 1960, she returned to (West) Germany in order to advocate for human rights and anti-racism.

Sometime over the past fifty years, Esther discovered a new hobby: hip-hop. Today, Esther, along with her son, performs concerts with the Microphone Mafia, a German rap group.  Together, Esther and the Microphone Mafia make music that speaks to the issues that Esther has devoted her life to. Although an unusual genre for someone who will be ninety this year (!), Esther is certainly inspiring.

Next Wednesday, I will have an opportunity to meet Esther and hear her perform with the Microphone Mafia. I am unbelievably excited and will certainly share my experience with you all!

If you'd like to learn more about Esther Bejarano, click here. Also, you can listen to some of her music on Youtube!

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