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Holocaust Memorial Day – Yom HaShoah

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Last Updated on April 19, 2023

Tuesday, April 18th, 2023 is Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel. The siren and commemorative events. 

6 memorial candles

The central state ceremony, marking the start of Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day in Israel, will be held at Yad Vashem on Monday, April 17th, at 20:00. The ceremony will be held in the presence of the President of the State of Israel and the Prime Minister, dignitaries and Holocaust survivors. Israel TV station will cover the live event.

Each year, six Holocaust survivors are chosen to light torches in memory of the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust.  

Tuesday, 18.04.23

  • 10:00 a.m. siren across Israel and a 2-minute silence is observed
  • 10:02 a.m. laying of wreaths at Yad Vashem
  • 11:00 a.m. ceremony – “Unto Every Person, There is a Name
  • 13:00 National Memorial Service
  • 16:45 closing ceremony at Kibbutz Lochamei HaGettaot 

“Unto every person, there is a name bestowed on him by God and given to him by his parents,” – a moving poem written by Zelda.

There are now little over 160,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel. More than 15,000 died in Israel in 2022.

  • The average age of a survivor in Israel is 84.5, and about 83% are over the age of 80
  • Haifa has the largest surviving community of Holocaust survivors 
  • 900 Holocaust survivors – victims of the most terrible torture and atrocities, succumbed to Covid-19, and many died alone.

One-quarter live below the poverty line. Thousands of them require food and medication immediately.

Appeal: The Foundation for the Welfare of Holocaust Survivors is a non-profit organization founded in 1994 by Holocaust survivors and for Holocaust survivors. Their mission is to assist, in every way possible, those who survived the horrors of the Holocaust and now, in their advanced years, lack the resources to live in dignity. If you can donate, however small, to this worthy cause, please follow this link…

The official name of Holocaust Memorial Day is Yom HaZikaron laShoah ve-laG’vurah (יום הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה; “Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day”), commonly referred to in Israel and abroad as Yom HaShoah (יום השואה) or simply Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In Israel, Yom HaShoah is commemorated on the 27th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, usually in April or May in the Gregorian calendar. If the 27th of Nisan is adjacent to Shabbat, the date is changed by one day. International Holocaust Remembrance Day is commemorated on January 27th.

In Israel, on the eve of Yom HaShoah, at 8 p.m., an official memorial ceremony takes place at the Yad Vashem in Jerusalem in the presence of the Prime Minister and President of Israel. Each year 6 Holocaust survivors are called upon to light a memorial candle in honor of the 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. It is usual for the Speaker of the Knesset to address the nation. Kaddish (Mourner’s Prayer for the Departed) is recited as well as a touching prayer called El Malei Rachamim (G-d Full of Mercy) – watch the video below. The ceremony ends with the singing of the Israeli national anthem – Hatikvah.

As this is an official day of mourning in Israel, all public entertainment is prohibited – restaurants, theaters, pubs, etc., are closed. Television channels broadcast programs that remind us of those difficult days. The Diary of Anne Frank, the story of Rauol Wallenberg, Janusz Korczak, and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and touching interviews with survivors who share their personal stories are broadcast.

“For the dead and the living, we must bear witness” – Elie Wiesel

Yom HaShoah is an official working day in Israel. Children attend school and participate in age-appropriate memorial activities. At 10 a.m., a siren sounds across the country, traffic comes to a standstill, everyone stops what they are doing, and the country stands together for a minute of silence. The siren marks the commencement of the official memorial service at Yad VaShem. 

In Poland, the day is marked by “The March of the Living.” The March of the Living is an annual educational program that brings Jewish students from around the world to Poland, where they explore the history of the Holocaust.

On Holocaust Memorial Day, thousands of people march from Auschwitz to Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration camp complex built during World War II. 

Lighting a memorial (yarzheit) candle on the eve of Yom HaShoah is traditional. The memorial candle burns for a little more than 24 hours. 

Yom HaShoah has no specific religious ritual, and practices differ in Jewish communities worldwide.

The day holds significant meaning for Jews around the world. The central theme that runs through all observances is the importance of remembering and recalling the victims of the Holocaust and ensuring that such a tragedy never happens again.

The words to “El Malei Rachamin”  for Yom HaShoah

God, full of mercy, who dwells on high, provide a sure rest upon the Divine Presence’s wings, within the range of the holy and the pure, whose shining resemble the sky’s, all the souls of the six million Jews, victims of the European Holocaust, who were murdered, slaughtered, burnt and exterminated for the Sanctification of the Name, by the German Nazi assassins and their helpers from the rest of the peoples. Therefore, the Master of Mercy will protect them forever, from behind the hiding of his wings, and will tie their souls with the rope of life. The Everlasting is their heritage, the Garden of Eden shall be their resting room, and they shall rest peacefully upon their lying place, they will stand for their fate in the end of days, and let us say: Amen  

אֵל מָלֵא רַחֲמִים שׁוֹכֵן בַּמְּרוֹמִים, הַמְצֵא מְנוּחָה נְכוֹנָה עַל כַּנְפֵי הַשְּׁכִינָה, בְּמַעֲלוֹת קְדוֹשִׁים וטְהוֹרִים כְּזוֹהַר הָרָקִיע מַזְהִירִים אֶת כָּל הַנְּשָׁמוֹת שֶׁל שֵׁשֶׁת מִילְיוֹנֵי הַיְּהוּדִים, חַלְלֵי הַשּׁוֹאָה בְּאֵירוֹפָּה, שֶׁנֶּהֶרְגוּ, שֶׁנִּשְׁחֲטוּ, שֶׁנִּשְׂרְפוּ וְשֶׁנִּסְפּוּ עַל קִדּוּשׁ הַשֵׁם, בִּידֵי הַמְרַצְּחִים הַגֶּרְמָנִים הָנַאצִים וְעוֹזְרֵיהֶם מִשְּׁאָר הֶעַמִּים. לָכֵן בַּעַל הָרַחֲמִים יַסְתִּירֵם בְּסֵתֶר כְּנָפָיו לְעוֹלָמִים, וְיִצְרוֹר בִּצְרוֹר הַחַיִּים אֶת נִשְׁמוֹתֵיהֶם, ה’ הוּא נַחֲלָתָם, בְּגַן עֵדֶן תְּהֵא מְנוּחָתָם, וְיַעֶמְדוּ לְגוֹרָלָם לְקֵץ הַיָּמִין, וְנֹאמַר אָמֵן


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