Michael Gurian conveys Eva Lassman’s wisdom in poem
Poet, consultant, author Michael Gurian’s oratorical poem on Eva Lassman ingrained in him anew his sense of service in all he does.
A lay-led Shabbat Shira—Sabbath of Song—service at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 3, at Temple Beth Shalom, 1322 E. 30th Ave., features the world premiere of “Eva’s Song,” his poem sharing the story and wisdom of Holocaust survivor and educator Eva Lassman, who died Feb. 10, 2011.
After giving the keynote for the 2005 Yom Hashoah at Temple Beth Shalom, also a lyrical poem, Michael said that he and Eva talked in 2006 about him writing her life as a lyrical oratory to be read on a public occasion.
To set the mood, he met with her, and she also gave him her written materials. He met with her son, Joel Lassman, and did other research. Eva, who worked tirelessly to combat hatred and intolerance, reviewed his draft in 2009. She asked him not to talk of Holocaust survivors dying.
In the final poem, however, Michael speaks with her voice today, looking back at her life after her death.
“I wanted to immortalize her voice,” he said. “Others had done film and written about her, but a poem is unique.”
In his poem, Michael captures her sense of purpose, her dedication to faith in God where others may have succumbed to hate. It is written in her voice of her experiences and reflections before, during and since the Holocaust.
The poem’s third verse begins: “My friends, did you know: everything can be taken from you? The world can hate itself with the fury of love, while you wander in the thick of it.” In the 11th verse, she implores: “No matter your creed or color, promise you will never let the ash of hate cover our human footprints!”
Ben Vogel, a music composition major at the University of the Pacific, has set the first four lines to music, as the “Prelude to Eva’s Song.” His composition will be performed on flute, cello and bass, with Sara Kayne, soprano soloist.
Michael, a consultant to families, corporations, therapists, schools, criminal justice, agencies and churches, has traveled to 20 cities a year for 20 years giving keynote addresses to conferences to help boys and girls reach their potential. The New York Times bestselling author of 26 books, including two poetry books, co-founded the Gurian Institute in 1996 in Spokane. The institute does research on gender effectiveness and diversity.
Michael came to Spokane in 1977 to study at Gonzaga University. He earned a bachelor’s in philosophy and English in 1980 and in 1985 at Eastern Washington University earned a master’s in fine arts. He has taught at both schools and at Ankara University.
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