Rabbi Detained for Singing at Auschwitz

His group sang songs their grandparents sang as they were led to their deaths

By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 4, 2014 8:36 AM CDT

(Newser) – Is singing appropriate at a memorial site, where it might bother other visitors? What if it's not just any singing, but an homage to relatives who sang those very songs as they were led to their deaths at Auschwitz? An Israeli rabbi who was there guiding a group of Australians and South Africans, some of whose grandparents were killed at the camp, was asked repeatedly to stop the group's singing Friday, and was ultimately detained and fined $350 for what camp administrators called "disruptive" and "unacceptable" behavior when he refused, reports the Times of Israel.

Rabbi Rafi Ostroff says his group sang several songs, including the Jewish song “Ani Maamin” ("I Believe"), a version of which was composed by a Hasidic rabbi in the cattle cars on the way to the death camps and ended up being sung by many other prisoners, according to Israeli National News. It became known as the Hymn of the Camps, and Ostroff says his group's singing should be excused given they are not typical tourists. "They have to be considerate and compassionate to Jewish groups," he wrote on Facebook. "We are not visiting there out of curiosity. It is a journey to the depths of our souls." Camp administrators say the singing was disturbing other guides and visitors. (Walmart recently scrambled to stop selling a decorative poster of a death camp entrance.)

This undated file image shows the main gate of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz I, Poland, which was liberated by the Russians in January 1945.
This undated file image shows the main gate of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz I, Poland, which was liberated by the Russians in January 1945.   (AP Photo/File)
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