Israel marks Holocaust Remembrance Day

Main ceremony to take place at Yad Vashem at 8 p.m. as country honors the 6 million Jews murdered in the Shoah

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

An Israeli boy at the 'From Holocaust to Revival' museum in Kibbutz Yad Mordechai (photo credit: Flash90)
An Israeli boy at the 'From Holocaust to Revival' museum in Kibbutz Yad Mordechai (photo credit: Flash90)

Israelis commemorated Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day Sunday night, marking the start of 24 hours during which schools, government offices, the IDF and local municipalities will hold ceremonies to honor those murdered by the Nazis and their helpers.

The national flag was lowered to half mast at 8 p.m. at the start of the main ceremony wat the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke and Six Holocaust survivors lit memorial torches in memory of the 6 million Jews who were murdered.

In Tel Aviv’s Habima and Jerusalem’s Gerard Bechar theaters, singers and actors will read texts and perform songs, along with screenings of documentary and testimonial videos for the public. Similar events will be held in various places throughout the country.

At Kibbutz Tel Yitzhak the annual ceremony will center on the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which took place exactly 70 years ago. The Hebrew date of the uprising — the 27th of the Hebrew month of Nissan — was chosen as a national memorial day by Israel’s government in 1959, years before the UN named January 27 (the day Auschwitz was liberated) as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Gabriel Bach, a former Supreme Court judge and member of the state prosecution during Adolf Eichmann’s trial, will speak at the Knesset in a televised session.

At 10 a.m. Monday, a two-minute siren will sound across the country and mark the start of ceremonies in educational institutions and Yad Vashem

At the Knesset, the annual recitation of victims’  names will start at 11, and the names of relatives, friends and acquaintances of legislators and their families will be read out from the podium. In addition, candles will be lit by survivors and their families and Israel’s chief rabbis will read from the book of Psalms and recite the mourners’ prayer.

Later in the day the IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz will head the March of the Living from Auschwitz to Birkenau.

On Monday, B’nai B’rith and the Jewish National Fund will hold a ceremony commemorating Jews who rescued fellow Jews during the Holocaust. The ceremony will center on the actions of Otto Komoly, a Hungarian Jew who oversaw the rescue of some 5,000 Jewish children. His granddaughter will be in attendance.

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