Yom Hashoah in Israel: Solemn ceremonies, determination to stay strong

“I fulfilled my father’s will. I built a family. I have three children and seven grandchildren; this is my personal victory over the Nazis.”

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Day – Yom Hashoah in Hebrew – takes place in Israel on the 27th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, which falls each year at the end of April or early May. According to the Hebrew calendar, the date is from sunset to sunset.

This year – 2022 — Yom Hashoah is observed on the evening of April 27 and during the day of April 28.

The 27th day of Nisan was chosen because it marks the beginning of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943, when Jewish resistance fighters defied the Nazis and fought for freedom.

Memorial events take place across the country — most notably the state ceremony at Yad Vashem, Israel’s National Holocaust Memorial, at sundown. Holocaust survivors light six torches in memory of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis.

On Wednesday evening, events known as Zikaron Basalon (Memory in the Living Room) are being held in various locations throughout Israel, including public institutions and private homes. A social initiative launched in 2010, these informal parlor meetings, not only in Israel but around the world, feature Holocaust survivors and have shown to be an effective educational tool, especially for youth.

In the evening, according to Israeli law, all stores, restaurants and places of entertainment close at 7 p.m. Television and radio shows include only Holocaust-related programs.

The following morning at 10 a.m., the country comes to a standstill when a siren is sounded for two minutes. This includes highways, where vehicles pull over to the side; the drivers and passengers step out and stand in silence.

Never Again

In his address during the state ceremony, President Isaac Herzog stressed the importance of the State of Israel to ensure another Holocaust will not happen.

“The State of the Jews arose as a lighthouse expressing the victory of light over darkness and promising that never again will a Jewish child hide in a dark and isolated cellar from those who want him dead. Never again will parents be torn apart from their children and sent on their final steps, simply because they are Jews. And never, ever, will depraved murderers stand behind a Jewish family, shoot them, and dispatch them into the valley of the shadow of death,” Herzog stated.

“We must act in a cohesive and determined manner in the face of terrorism and hatred, led by states and organizations against us, and fortify Israel’s independence as an iron wall defending us against our enemies,” he said.

Addressing Holocaust survivors, he said that “even as your numbers dwindle, our obligations toward you only grow, and they must be seen and heard from every edge of the earth. You are the pillar of fire before our camp. You provide us with inspiration and hope, and you instill in us faith in the righteousness of our cause and in our willingness to move forward.”

Survivor’s message to youth

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett hosted Holocaust survivor Aliza Landau at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, in the framework of Zikaron Basalon.

“Landau described how she hid in a forest with her father and brother, with very little food, and how one morning she saw her father weeping,” Bennett said after the event.

“A little girl, she felt this was the end of the world. When she asked her father why he was weeping, he replied that her brother had not survived, that he had perished from hunger.

“And then her father told her: ‘Where there are barking dogs, there are people. In the night, I want you to crawl there and ask the people for help.’ Aliza said that that day, when she was six, her father gave her his last will: ‘You go. You will be saved, and you will rebuild our family.’”

In conclusion, Landau said, “I fulfilled my father’s will. I built a family. I have three children and seven grandchildren; this is my personal victory over the Nazis.

“My message to the young people is that it is possible to overcome harsh traumas and remain a normative person and contribute.”