Sirens wailed as much of Israel stood still for two minutes on Thursday morning, bowing heads in memory of the six million Jews who were killed during the Holocaust. Official ceremonies around Israel started immediately afterwards.
A two-minute siren sounded nationwide at 10 a.m., marking the opening of the various ceremonies.
Traffic stopped and people stood quietly as the sirens blared.
President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the official ceremony at Yad Vashem.
Netanyahu, Peres and Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin were later to take part in the annual reading of the names, a ceremony held in the Knesset, where politicians read out the names of those who died in the Shoah.
The B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem and the Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) were set to hold a joint ceremony at 10 a.m., honoring Jews who saved other Jews during the Shoah.
At 1 p.m. the “March of the Living” was to begin in Auschwitz, led by Israel’s Chief of Police Yohanan Danino and featuring 10,000 people from 35 countries.
A 4 p.m. ceremony was scheduled to take place at an international school in Jerusalem, honoring the four Jews killed in the Toulouse shooting last month. Minister of Education Gideon Sa’ar and French Ambassador to Israel Christophe Bigot are both set to attend.
Throughout the day small ceremonies were taking place at schools and other institutions across the country.
The events were to come to a close with two evening ceremonies. At 7:30 p.m Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz was to speak at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, and at 7:45 p.m. Minister of Culture and Sport Limor Livnat was to speak at Kibbutz Lohamei Haggetao’t, named after the Jewish fighters in the ghettos.
On Wednesday evening Yad Vashem hosted a ceremony with six survivors lighting beacons in memory of those who were killed. After the flame was lit, Netanyahu spoke about modern-day enemies of the Jewish people, while Peres told his family’s own Holocaust story.
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