The poet Nachum Sternheim was born in Rzeszow in 1879 and died in the Holocaust.
He studied in Yeshiva until the age of seventeen. He was active in the professional union of workers and officials from 1897. He was one of the activists of Poale Zion in Rzeszow in 1904. His first songs were published in the “Wachenblatt” newspaper of Leibel Taubisz. He left Rzeszow in 1908 and moved to the United States. He earned his livelihood from factory work in America, and published Yiddish songs. He returned to Rzeszow in 1912. He toured the Jewish communities of Galicia. He lectured on Jewish national poetry and performed his songs. He became famous as one of the national Yiddish songwriters.
The enemy pillaged our city, took the city from us, grabbed away the cradles of our children, took our lives, and destroyed our graves. Nothing remains from those days, only the violin and songs of Nachum Sternheim.
“Das Lidele, Das Fidele
Un Oich Das Alte Yidele”
(“The Little song, the violin,
And also the old Jew”.)
The popular songs of Nachum Sternheim remain. Those they could not take from us, for the song, in accordance with the words of the poet, does not know borders, and death has no power over it.
Nachum continues to live on in his songs, even though he often went around penniless during his life. Despite the want and straits, he was happy with his lot and gladdened his nation with his songs. The property and wealth of the Jews of Rzeszow sunk into the depths. Wealthy and famous people, who fled from the city to safety, died in strange places, without Kaddish and without a monument. However, the songs of Sternheim accompany us, the survivors and remnants. His songs continue to embroider the life above the dust and ashes of our murdered community.
During the years before and between the two world wars, for thirty years until August 1939, Nachum Sternheim created songs and hymns, full of Zionist and social content. There were songs of freedom and peace, songs against “wonderworkers” and clergy who hated and persecuted the Zionist movement. When we sing the songs of Sternheim even today, we shed a tear as we remember our fathers and mothers. We have no other place to shed our tears, for even the graves of our parents have disappeared in the cities of Poland.