Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Esther Bejarano and the "Microphone Mafia"

Today, Zeitzeugen (lit., "time witnesses") from the Third Reich are few in number. Holocaust museums around the world are desperately collecting as many first-hand accounts from survivors as possible. It is, therefore, truly a treat to meet a survivor of National Socialism.

Esther Bejarano was a Jewish internee in Auschwitz-Birkenau and Ravensbrueck in the early 1940s. After her liberation, she, along with many European Jews, moved to Palestine, where she lived for almost fifteen years. In the early 1960s, Esther moved again, finding refuge in the least likely of places--Germany. Ever since, Esther has worked tirelessly to end anti-Semitism, fascism, and discrimination in Germany (and the rest of Europe). 

Esther survived the gas chambers by joining the "Girls's Orchestra" in Auschwitz as an accordionist, an instrument she picked up upon her arrival in the concentration camp. Prior to 2009, Esther had been best known for her participation in this band. Recently, however, Esther has become well-known for a new (and rather unusual) musical exploit.Five years ago Esther became the newest member of the "Microphone Mafia," a German hip-hop group. Together, Esther and the "Mafia" sing and rap songs in a myriad of languages that all promote one ideal: tolerance.

I saw Esther in concert on July 2nd at Osthofen concentration camp, which was absolutely incredible. The concert consisted of a reading and a set that lasted over two hours--an amazing feat when you consider that Esther will be ninety this year. To see such vitality in a woman who has survived so much was a pleasure. But to see such undying conviction in a human was truly an honor. 

Esther Bejarano with one of her band-mates

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