5: Film excerpt, director Edward Zwick’s Defiance, 2008.

5: Film excerpt, director Edward Zwick’s Defiance, 2008.

This Hollywood movie was based on Nehama Tec’s book Defiance: The Bielski Partisans (1993) and fictionalizes the real-life story of Tuvia, Zus, Asael, and Aron Bielski. In this scene, a rabbi eulogizes two partisans using the exact (translated) words of Molodowsky’s poem.

Suggested activity: Discuss: Why do you think the filmmakers chose a poem written at the end of the war, by a poet in America, for a character living through the Holocaust to recite? How do you feel about the poem’s being used in this way? (Note that Molodowsky’s name does not appear in the credits or in virtually any review of the movie.) Finally, compare the final line of the poem here (“Take back the gift of our holiness. Amen.”) to the way it is rendered by Howe and Hellerstein. How does the film’s translation differ from the others?

Source: Defiance, directed by Edward Zwick (2008; Paramount Home Media Distribution, 2009), DVD.