“Night Words – A Midrash on the Holocaust” written by David Roskies was presented by Temple Emanu-El of Haverhill as a special Yom HaShoah Commemoration.
The event was April 7 at Cascia Hall on the campus of Merrimack College in North Andover.
“Night Words’’ is a dramatic reading by 36 participants. It brings together the boldest writings from rabbinic, medieval, and modern literary sources; dialogue; voices; questioning; and even orchestrated rage.
As the participants of the reading entered, they lined up in a row and relinquished their shoes to the ushers. They then proceeded to the “Place of Meeting” (within Cascia Hall). A quorum for this service is 36 people.
Roles were chosen in advance. Each participant received a text of the service from which they read. Non-reading attendees were seated around the hall. The play is oriented toward adults and older children. The reading has a basis in a millennial-old Jewish legend that there are 36 righteous people on earth, called Lamed Vavniks, unknown to others and themselves unaware of their mission. No Lamed-Vav knows who the others are. In fact, they often do not know themselves that they are a Lamed-Vav.
They lead challenging lives, taking upon themselves the sorrows of the world. When they are needed, they perform acts of kindness, charity and bravery — and then immediately return to their ordinary lives, without the realization that they have just accomplished an act that has caused the Divine to manifest in the world.