Sunday, April 15, 2012

Emanu-El Religious School - 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic on its maiden voyage from England to New York City.  Coverage of Jewish interest is available on-line at the Forward (the original articles from 1912 were published in Yiddish, but don't worry - everything on the website is in English).

That year, our school newspaper (the 1912 Emanu-El Religious School Chronicle) featured poems written by our students in response to this tragedy, with titles like "Ode to the Heroes who Perished on the 'Titanic.'"   According to that venerable news source, Wikipedia:

"The immediate aftermath of the sinking saw an outpouring of poetry, though much of it was dismissed by The New York Times as 'worthless' and 'intolerably bad.'"
I am sharing with you two of the better poems, written by H. Reinheimer in Class II and by Vera K. in Class I.  If this event has been on the minds of the children in your household (or perhaps even if not), you may wish to read these together.  I think they do a fine job of telling the story and expressing its significance to our community.

The Wreck of the Titanic

Proudly the Titanic
   Left Fair England's shore,
But little did she dream that she'd
   Return there nevermore.

Two thousand three hundred souls
   Embarked on that great ship ;
On a bright day, she sailed away
   Upon her maiden trip.

The passengers were gay,
   For America they were bound ;
They did not fear of dangers near,
   Which always are around.

Soon it approached some fields of ice,
   It was in early night ;
And the passengers did look upon
   That wondrous sea of white.

Suddenly the ship hits something,
   And there is an awful crash ;
Now nearly every passenger
   Upon the deck does dash.
The great ship shook from bow to stern,
   Before it met its doom,
And soon the people could discern
   An iceberg in the gloom.

"The life-boats !" cried the captain,
   The Sailors did obey,
But well they knew, all of the crew,
   That some would have to stay.

The order of the seas prevailed :
   "Women and children first !"
But in leaving their husbands the women wailed,
   For they feared for the very worst.

Of all the heroes made there,
   I'm sure I cannot tell,
For many men gave up their lives
   For women and babes as well.

Sixteen hundred precious lives
   Were lost on the Titanic ;
Yet, through the bravery of the men
   There had not been a panic.

The people in the life-boats
   Were rescued the next day ;
By a steamer of the Cunard Line
   They were brought to New York Bay.
Most women lost their husbands
   In that shipwreck out at sea ;
And very few remain to tell
   About that tragedy.

The Real Titanic Heroes

Much has been written and perhaps more has been said
Of the pow'rful Titanic and its long list of dead ;
But I think it is queer that of all who her boarded
It is only the noted and rich they applauded.
'Tis true, all their deeds were both heroic and great,
But those in the steerage met the very same fate.

They had started with happy hearts for a free land and new.
But pitifully met their end ere the voyage great was thru'.
Instead of a joyful landing where our starry flag doth wave,
When nearly there, they sank - down to a watery grave.
Ah, it is true that the friends of the great will mourn,
But the friends of the poor more than mere grief have borne.

For the fathers, the husbands, the lovers all went
To their death like real men, and all that term meant.
But alas, for the dear ones, who, waiting at home,
For their loved one's return were left sorrowing alone.
Yes. 'tis true that the famous did nobly and well,
Yet the poor are great credit to the land where they dwell.

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