“The Lonely Child” headed to Carnegie Hall

“The Lonely Child” headed to Carnegie Hall

Sarah and her protective nanny, Victoria, in Poland after the war ended.
Sarah and her protective nanny, Victoria, in Poland after the war ended.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

Practice, tradition tells us.

Take the E train from Port Authority to 7th Avenue, Google Maps says.

But in Alix Wall’s case, you get there by invitation.

Ms. Wall was an editor at the Jewish Standard before she headed west to join J: The Jewish News of Northern California. More recently, she has been working to create a documentary film focusing on a Yiddish song composed in the Vilna ghetto in 1943. It’s called “Dos Elnte Kind” — in English, it’s “The Lonely Child.”

That song tells a story that is sadly familiar from accounts of the Holocaust, about a child sent away by her Jewish mother to be raised by gentiles, safe from the Nazi murder machine. It was written about Alix’s mother, Sarah, whose mother, Rakhele Pupko-Krinski, was a friend and colleague of the song’s composer, Shmerke Kaczerginski, in the ghetto.

After the war, Rakhele and Sarah were reunited. (Rakhele’s husband — Sarah’s father — had been murdered.) After remarrying and anglicizing her name, Rachela Melezin lived in Teaneck with her husband, Abraham Melezin, for more than 20 years, from 1970 until the late 1990s.

Both Rakhele and Sarah died in 2002; Abraham died in 2008.

And then, as we reported in some detail back in 2017, Alix discovered that “The Lonely Child” song had traveled far beyond her family — and that the best way for her to fulfill the command of the song’s final lines (“Forget not the past, not for one single day!) was to make a film telling the song’s story.

In the past five years, the film “The Lonely Child” received a $20,000 grant from the Claims Conference. It has neared the stage of a rough cut, with its editor assembling footage shot around the world.

And now Alix is headed to Carnegie Hall, to introduce the song at a concert of Holocaust music called “We Are Here,” scheduled for January 26. Wendy Moten, a Nashville-based jazz singer who was a runner-up on “The Voice,” will sing it.

As Alix wrote in the newsletter for supporters of the film, “We could not have conceived of our song being performed at such a high-profile event when we started this project years ago.”

But there’s a catch.

Because while you can get to Carnegie Hall by public transportation, getting rights to film inside the hall requires the breathtaking sum of $35,000, “an astronomical fee for a bootstrapped, independent production like ours,” as Alix writes.

“Yet we can’t imagine this taking place and it not appearing in the final film,” the newsletter continues.

So: To learn more about the concert, go to wearehereconcert.com.

To help fund the filming of the performance of “The Lonely Child,” look for “Lonely Child” at Gofundme.com or make a tax-deductible contribution through the National Center for Jewish Film.

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