Wednesday evening will mark the beginning of this sacred day of remembrance for Israelis and the global Jewish community; Yom HaShoah commemorates the lives of the over six million Jews killed in the Holocaust from 1933 – 1945, of which more than 1.5 million were children.
Holocaust Memorial Day, or Yom HaShoah יום השואה is set to begin on Wednesday evening as the Jewish community in Israel and abroad remembers the horrific events and lives lost throughout the Holocaust of the 1930s and 1940s. Over six million members of the Jewish community were killed under the Nazi regime headed by the notorious Adolf Hitler, of which more than 1.5 million were children.
As noted by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM):
“Driven by a racist ideology that viewed Jews as “parasitic vermin” worthy only of eradication, the Nazis implemented genocide on an unprecedented scale. All of Europe’s Jews were slated for destruction: the sick and the healthy, the rich and the poor, the religiously orthodox and converts to Christianity, the aged and the young, even infants. Thousands of Jewish children survived this brutal carnage, however, many because they were hidden. With identities disguised, and often physically concealed from the outside world, these youngsters faced constant fear, dilemmas, and danger. Theirs was a life in shadows, where a careless remark, a denunciation, or the murmurings of inquisitive neighbors could lead to discovery and death.”
Yom HaShoah literally means “day of remembrance of the Catastrophe and the Heroism”. You will note that this day of remembrance, which is one of the most sacred on the Jewish calendar, begins on the 27th of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar. This was the date that Jewish resistance fighters began a revolt against the Nazis in 1943 at the Warsaw Ghetto in an attempt to make a stand and prevent more Jews from being transported to death camps. It was a statement of freedom.
Often, Yom HaShoah will be observed by the reviewing of the stories of those who survived the Holocaust. Some people will even light candles in memory of those who died. It is also a tradition for Israel to sound a siren throughout the country at 10:00 AM (Thursday) that brings everyone to a stop for two minutes. Even vehicles on the highway will stop and the driver will get out of the car to join others in honoring the victims.
Just this week, in an expression of consolation and unity, several countries voiced their support for the Jewish State as it commemorates the lives of those lost. But the support came from a crowd that would formally refrain from commenting – the Arab world.
As noted by Israel Hayom, the Sharaka (Arabic for Partnership) organization, which was founded due to the Abraham Accords, is led by Israeli Amit Deri and Emirati Dr. Majid Al Sarrah. One member of the group from Saudi Arabia said, “Jews around the world need to know that they are not alone. The Arab states that signed the Abraham Accords and other Arab states are on their side,” and another from Bahrain tweeted the words of Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel, saying, “Forgetting the Holocaust is like killing twice..the lessons of the Holocaust are searingly relevant to this day.”
Approaching the sacred day, President Reuven Rivlin said, “As we remember those six million men, women, and children, who were slaughtered by the Nazi death machine, we seek also to return to them the identities that were stolen from them by reading out their names throughout the day on Yom HaShoah.”
The names of the Holocaust victims will be read aloud on Thursday during an event titled “Unto Every Person there is a Name”, which is hosted at the Knesset in the Chagall State Hall.
You can read more about this year’s theme, Until the Very Last Jew: Eighty Years Since the Onset of Mass Annihilation, as an additional resource on Yad Vashem’s site. On Wednesday, Yad Vashem will also host a candlelight ceremony known as “Generations that Light the Way”. There will also be a wreath-laying ceremony on Thursday, among other events.