Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) Observed Today
As Jews and Gentiles alike reflect on this solemn Holocaust Memorial Day or Yom Hashoah, they honor the lives of the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust.
Yom Hashoah was first set aside as a day of commemoration by former Prime Minister of Israel David Ben Gurion and former President of Israel Yitzak Ben-Zvi in 1953. The day is always observed on the 27th of Nissan, unless it falls on Shabbat. In that case, the date is changed. This day is the day Israel has chosen to honor the lives of those lost in the Holocaust.
This is not to be confused with International Holocaust Commemoration Day which falls on January 27th; the day the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated.
Yom Hashoah traditionally begins every year with an official ceremony at sundown in Israel. The Times of Israel reports a ceremony took place at the Yad Vashem museum last evening with music, candle lighting and stories from Holocaust survivors. Several Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers stood at attention behind the podium during the solemn event.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a poignant speech in Hebrew. A portion of his speech was published in the Jerusalem Post, in which he said: “for generations, we were like a driven leaf in the wind, without strength, without defense. But no more.”
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin also spoke and said: “the number which was tattooed onto your flesh is etched into the hearts of this nation for generations.” His comment was referring to the numbers tattooed on the arms of every Jewish prisoner in the concentration camps.
Many notable Israeli guests attended including Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, chairman of the Yad Vashem Council, cantor Israel Parnes and the Rishon LeZion, Chief Rabbi Yitzak Yosef.
Similar events will be held around the world. The Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City will hold a special event on Thursday. In a statement on their website, they said “the public is invited to meet artifact donors, Holocaust survivors, and their families in the galleries, and to hear them share their personal recollections and stores of their artifacts. Holocaust survivors and artifact donors will be in the galleries from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.” The event is free with suggested donation.
Other cities such as Miami, San Francisco and Washington D.C. have planned events for this week.
As Christians, it is essential that we stand in solidarity with the Jewish people.
In the words of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin: “remembering the victims of the Holocaust, we say ‘never again.’ We will forever insist beloved is man, created in the image of God.”