The devastation of the Holocaust brought about not only the decimation of the Jewish people in body, but also immeasurable losses to Jewish culture. Countless and precious pieces of memory, history, and tradition disappeared with the people who guarded them. But one simple song from the alter heim (the “old country”) has been given new life in a new generation.
The Yiddish song, “In Vilden Vald” (“In the Wild Woods”), performed by newcomer Aaron Tessler, is a tribute to his own family’s legacy and the eternal continuity of the Jewish spirit.
“My grandmother, Rachel Tessler OB’’M, was one of few family members to survive the horrors of Auschwitz and the Nazi Death Marches, to return to Viseu de Sus (Visheve), Romania, to marry and start a family,” says Tessler. “Yet, she endured more persecution under the Romanian Communist regime, eventually leading her family to Israel, where she would live until her passing in March 2017.”
In her later years, Rachel Tessler would speak of her childhood in the small Romanian village of Romuli, and among the many stories retold was a song, a timeless piece of Jewish folk culture dating back to a world that is now lost.
“In Vilden Vald” tells the story of a lost little lamb in the harsh wilderness, searching for its mother and its home. The song’s verses equate the lamb with the Jewish people and their enduring quest for tranquility in the Land of Israel, illustrating the constant hope and faith that have been characteristic of so many generations of Jews, in Europe and around the globe.
After extensive research, Aaron was unable to find this song documented anywhere else in the world; a simple recording from his grandmother was all that remained. The song danced with death at Auschwitz, and has survived, and is now reinvigorated by the ultimate sign of Jewish perseverance: the grandchild of a Holocaust survivor.
Now this piece of Jewish heritage is revived and renewed, for reverence and appreciation by future generations. While most of the song’s original listener’s perished thinking that they were experiencing the end of Jewish history, the remastering of “In Vilden Vald” is a testament to the everlasting faith, strength, and resolve that have carried the Jewish people through time.
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Music and Lyrics: Unknown Source
Produced by: Yoily Polatseck
Arranged by: Shloimy Salzman
Vocals guided by: Yoily Polatseck at ZemiroStudio, Monsey, NY
Choir: Zemiros, Arranged by Yoily Polatseck
Mixed & Mastered by: Gershy Schwarcz
This song is produced in loving memory of Rachel Tessler OB”M, Rachel bas Ze’ev Wolf, and would not be possible without the generous support of the following people:
Jacob Tessler and Family, Pessy (Tessler) Benjaminy and Family, and many others…….