Yom HaShoah Commemorated in Israel

Yom Hashoah is Israel's official commemoration day for the six million Jews killed during the Holocaust.  Yom Hashoah was commemorated on 11-12 April in 2018. Yom Hashoah is officially known as  Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day.  It is a national memorial day in Israel, inaugurated in 1953 by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi. At 10 AM, sirens sound across Israel and a moment of silence is observed. Ceremonies and services are held at schools, military bases, the various Holocaust commemorative and educational institutions across Israel, and other public institutions and community organizations.

The official Opening Ceremony for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day was held on Wednesday, 11 April 2018 at 20:00, in Warsaw Ghetto Square, Yad Vashem, Mount of Remembrance, Jerusalem.  Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will both deliver remarks at the Opening Ceremony. Yad Vashem Council Chairman Rabbi Israel Meir Lau will kindle the Memorial Torch. Survivor Zipora Nahir will speak on behalf of the survivors.

During the ceremony, Holocaust survivors lit six torches, accompanied by their family members. First torch: Mirjam Lapid, second torch: Shmuel Bogler, third torch: Thea Friedman, fourth torch: Raul Teitelbaum, fifth torch: Yisaschar Dov Goldstein, sixth torch: Abba Naor. During the ceremony, short videos about each of the torchlighters were shown. These videos were produced and directed by Shlomo Hazan, and will be available on the Yad Vashem website in the section dedicated to Holocaust Remembrance Day 2018.

Singers Meshi Kleinstein and Amir Dadon and the IDF Paratroopers’ Honor Guard will participate in the ceremony, which will also include narrative pieces by actor Dror Keren. The ceremony will feature a traditional memorial service, including the recitation of a chapter from Psalms by Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi David Lau. The Rishon LeZion, Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef will recite the Kaddish mourner's prayer, and Cantor Zvi Weiss will recite El Maleh Rahamim, the Jewish prayer for the souls of the martyrs. Yad Vashem broadcast the Official Opening Ceremony live with simultaneous translation, accessible via Facebook and Yad Vashem's YouTube Channel and Yad Vashem's website. The Opening Ceremony was broadcast live on Israeli television and radio.

During Yom HaShoah, entertainment and leisure businesses close their doors as a mark of respect. Broadcasts are devoted to the subject matter of the Holocaust. In recent years, new initiatives have emerged to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive within the Israeli social fabric, the most popular of which is  "Zikaron BaSalon" – which translates as Memory in the Living Room. The simple concept revolves around inviting a Holocaust Survivor to tell their story on the evening of Yom HaShoah in private homes. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis have participated in these meetings, which also offer survivors a chance to reach new audiences. https://www.zikaronbasalon.org/

On 12 April, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the official ceremony at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem as the siren sounded and the country came to a standstill.  The moment of silence was followed by official ceremonies at Yad Vashem, including a state memorial service "Unto Every Person there is a name" – recitations of the names of those killed in the Holocaust, held simultaneously at Israel's Knesset and at Yad Vashem.  

Traditionally, the March of the Living in Poland also culminates on the same day, and this year it was attended by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who addressed a moving Yom Hashoah ceremony at Auschwitz. At Yad Vashem in the Valley of the Communities, the Ceremony for youth movements in the presence of the Minister of Education, and in cooperation with the Ministry of Education’s Youth and Social Administration and the Youth Movement Council, was attended by hundreds of young Israelis from across Israel.

At 7 pm, the closing ceremony for Yom HaShoah took place at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, near Ashkelon, which was founded by Polish Holocaust survivors and named for Mordechai Anielewicz, the leader of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Yom HaShoah ceremony at Yad Vashem. Yad Vashem