Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Thursday with the six Holocaust survivors who will light torches at Sunday’s official ceremony marking the start of Holocaust Remembrance Day, telling them their stories were the stories of the “rebirth” of the Jewish people in the State of Israel.
The theme of this year’s event is “Restoring their Identities: The Fate of the Individual During the Holocaust.”
Accompanied by his wife, Sara, Netanyahu spoke with the torch lighters and heard their stories, which the prime minister said were filled “with both horror and glory.” Each story is also “the story of our people climbing back from the pit of death — this is our story of rebirth,” he said.
“We were helpless,” said Netanyahu. “I want you to understand the enormity of the miracle.”
Netanyahu spoke of the rise of the State of Israel from the ashes of the Holocaust, mirroring the survivors’ own stories.
“There is hardly a day when world leaders, presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers and other leaders do not come here and come to learn from the State of Israel,” he said. “There is great admiration for the State of Israel. ‘But how did you do that?’ they ask. ‘You were dust, ashes?’ So I look at you and I ask, ‘How did you do that?’ Because what we did afterwards is nothing compared to your great deeds, and that is the great story of rebirth. There is no real explanation for this miracle.”
The Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum will host the annual ceremony, and the six Holocaust survivors will light beacons in memory of the six million Jews who were killed by the Nazis. The six were named as Moshe Ha-Elion, Moshe Jakubowitz, Jeannine Sebbane-Bouhanna, Moshe Porat, Max Privler, Elka Abramovitz.
For the first time, Yad Vashem will broadcast the official ceremony, which will begin on Sunday at 8 p.m., live on Facebook and YouTube.