Yom Hashoah 5772

Lighting remembrance flames at Yad Vashem on Yom Hashoah

Lighting remembrance flames at Yad Vashem on Yom Hashoah

Today Israel marks Holocaust Memorial Day, and as in every year, this morning at 10 a.m. the sirens sounded for 2 minutes while citizens stopped what they were doing and stood still in silence in memory of the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

Last night Yom Hashoah began with the annual ceremony at Yad Vashem which began with six Holocaust survivors each lighting a flame in memory of the Six Million.  At the ceremony, President Shimon Peres told his own family story:

Peres, who was born in the Polish town of Vishneva in 1923 and migrated to pre-state Israel before the war erupted, learned later how Nazi troops beat members of his extended family and ordered them to march toward the town’s synagogue.

“Someone yelled ‘Jews, save yourselves!’ The Germans shot those who tried to escape. The rest arrived at the synagogue that was made of wood. Its doors were locked. They were all burned alive,” he said. “That was also the last day of Rabbi Zvi Meltzer, my grandfather, my mentor. He was burned with a prayer shawl on his head. That was the last Jewish day in Vishneva. Not a single living Jew remained.”

This morning, the Knesset is holding its special memorial session in which MKs read out the names of their family members who died in the Holocaust. This is part of the memorial project “To each man there is a name”, thus reversing the Nazis’ dehumanising of their victims by assigning them numbers instead of their names.

There are more pictures and video clips of the ceremonies and of the country coming to a halt during the sirens at Hebrew Ynet.

Traffic comes to a halt in Haifa on Yom Hashoah

Traffic comes to a halt in Haifa on Yom Hashoah

There were many private Yom Hashoah events across the country as well as special TV schedules for the entire day. Last night our shul invited a speaker to talk about his family’s experiences during the Shoah and how they escaped. The evening began with reciting of Tehillim (Psalms) in memory of the victims, and lighting a 6-branched candelabra echoing the event at Yad Vashem.

My father was one of those chosen to light a candle. You can read our own family history on my Family History page here.

Dad Yom Hashoah

Dad lights a candle on Yom Hashoah

My sister who is a kindergarten teacher sent me this beautiful picture of the children standing to attention with heads bowed (some of the children took the bowing very seriously!):

Yom Hashoah in gan

Yom Hashoah in kindergarten

As for all the implications for Israel, Iran and the wider Middle East with echoes of the Holocaust all around us, I went back to my post from last year’s Yom Hashoah and was saddened but not surprised to find that nothing has changed. I could have just copy-pasted the entire article and no one would have noticed.

That is probably the most important lesson of all.

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4 Responses to Yom Hashoah 5772

  1. realRightWinger says:

    last night, I saw a programme on TV about an Englishman (named Winton – I think) – who save 700 jewish children from Chekoslovakia. Their decendants now number 5700. If everyone of those 6m jews who were murdered by the Nazi’s would have been allowed to live – imagine how many more Jewish people there would be living in the world today. The Nazis not only murdered the 6m, but the 20m+ who were never allowed to be. May Hashem avenge their blood.

    • anneinpt says:

      I’m sorry I missed that program. I’ve read about Nicholas Winton before. What an extraordinary man, the essence of a tzaddik.

      Your numbers really make one stop and think. The sadness is indescribable.

  2. reality says:

    Our aunt died from leukemia. At the time the doctors asked if there were any brothers who could donate bone marrow as the match would be better than my other aunts who had the closest match but it didn’t take. There had been 3 brothers who had been sent at a very young age from Germany to Holland where they were captured & murdered in Sobibor, together with the wonderful woman who agreed to take care of them. And so, many years later the yet another victim of the holocaust died(my aunt) as she couldn’t recieve bone marrow from one of her murdered brothers

    • anneinpt says:

      The brothers’ story is in the family history page I linked to in the article. Who knows if our aunt might not still be alive if not for the Nazis – yet ironically she was born after the war. As you say, the Shoah’s malign legacy lives on decades later.

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