“That song always touched something deep inside me”
As the years go by and fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors remain to share their real-life testimonies, ensuring that their memories live on has become of paramount importance — especially during this time of mourning the Churban, with all its tragic historical ramifications.
That’s one reason Abie Rotenberg’s iconic Holocaust song, “Memories” — which speaks of the reality that although the memories of those who witnessed the destruction will eventually fade, G-d Himself will never forget His People’s suffering — is still so popular 30 years after it was released on Journeys II. In the song, an old man holds his grandson close as he reflects, “There once was another child, who smelled as sweet and felt as warm, but he was taken from before my eyes, and only I remained to mourn…. What will become of all the memories? Are they to scatter with the dust in the breeze? And who will stand before the world, knowing what to say, when the very last survivor fades away?”
Nine years after Abie’s original release, the song emerged again — this time as a duet sung by MBD and Avraham Fried at the second OHEL concert in 1998. That collaboration was the brainchild of the concert’s producer, Sheya Mendlowitz, and became a popular new rendition of “Memories.”
“That song always touched something deep inside me,” says Sheya, “and when I was planning the show, I felt that Mordche and Avremel’s voices would be perfectly suited to it. I invited them to my office and left them locked in for a few hours with the song. In the past, their duets had been spontaneous, but this time they worked out who would sing what and really learned their parts, practicing to perfection. On the original recording, the lines were divided up by Abie and Eli Kranzler, and Mordche and Avremel made the same divisions, based on the strengths of their respective voices. The result was very polished and very special.” But beyond polish, beyond the exquisite harmonies in the refrain, it’s the dual message of hope out of brokenness that continues to keep this a classic.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 772)