When you look at the above picture you may think there is nothing extraordinary about it. However when you delve only slightly into the history of the picture you quickly how realize how amazing the picture really is.
The picture is of a Jewish male choir of the Great Synagogue in Amsterdam, it was taken in March 1942 and although the deportations of Dutch Jews had not started yet at the that time, the life of Dutch Jews had been nearly made impossible at that stage.
Yet these men kept going and tried to lift the spirits with their singing. Heroically they maintained their cultural legacy despite the looming threat of being killed.
It particularly touched me because one of my hobbies is singing, in fact I used to be a conductor of a mixed choir, and when I saw the style of the conductor of this choir it reminds me of my own style.
The conductor’s name is Samuel Henri Englander he was appointed as the conductor when he was aged 20.Under his leadership the choir became well known, it soon got the nick name ‘Englander’s choir’. They performed at shul services but also weddings and even in concerts where they primarily would sing religious music from Eastern Europe and Yiddish folk songs. Some of the concerts WERE even be broadcast by the BBC.
I don’t know what happened to the choir, I can only presume they did not survive. Samuel Henri Englander was murdered in Sobibor on 11 June 1943.
So much talent has been destroyed by the Nazis, depriving not only the world but also themselves of so much good.
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