Chaim Goldberg, born 1917, in Kazimierz-Dolny, a Polish shtetl, died 2004 in Florida, USA. The Nazis may have destroyed his artwork, but the artist and his memories survived. Dancing across canvas Shtetl life seeps from each canvas. Taste the fog of smoky nights. Breathe in the aromas of the Challah bread baked to welcome in Shabbat and the festival foods: Chanukah donuts, Purim cheesecake, apple and honey for a sweet New Year, and herrings – there were always herrings. Shtetl life stumbled from Cossack threats and pogroms to Heil Hitler salutes and conscription. The Polish army was no place for a young Jewish artist. He ran from Warsaw’s barbed wire but his parents remained, their words echoing into the ether, ‘The Germans would never hurt us Jews.’ When, in time, the artist recreated his portfolio the Holocaust permeated each canvas with dark days, yellow stars and dread. Above the darks he painted spirits rising from the smoke. The shtetl was gone but not so its memory of love and family, of prayer and music. Each brushstroke echoed the breath of a thousand souls singing out, ‘Forget, oy oy, forget. It’s over so why would you not dance?’
Rosalind Adam is a writer living in Leicester, UK. She has had three children’s books published and her poetry has appeared in a number of anthologies. In 2018 she won the G. S. Fraser poetry prize for Fresh Canvas and, in the same year, she was awarded a distinction for her MA in Creative Writing at The University of Leicester.