Six survivors to light torches and give testimony at Yad Vashem ceremony
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Six survivors to light torches and give testimony at Yad Vashem ceremony

Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day begins Wednesday night, April 11, with annual ceremony

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

Illustrative: Survivors, some accompanied by their children or grandchildren, light six torches at Yad Vashem on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash 90)
Illustrative: Survivors, some accompanied by their children or grandchildren, light six torches at Yad Vashem on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash 90)

Israel’s commemoration of Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day begins at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 11, in the Warsaw Ghetto Square at Yad Vashem.

President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will both speak at the hour-and-a-half ceremony, which will be broadcast live on local television channels, as well as on Ynet, Walla News, Kan radio and Galei Tzahal.

Viewers can also tune into the broadcast that will have a simultaneous translation into English and French on the Yad Vashem Facebook page, Yad Vashem website and Yad Vashem YouTube channel.

The crux of the ceremony is the torchlighters, the Holocaust survivors who light the six torches in memory of the six million Jewish victims.

This year’s torchlighting ceremony will begin with survivor Zipora Nadir, who will speak on behalf of the other six torchlighters.

Nadir was born in Poland, and spent much of the war in ghettos and then moving from the Bedzin concentration camp to Majdenek, where she survived until the end of the war. She was reunited with her parents and sister after the war, eventually emigrating to Israel with her mother, where she married and raised a family.

Shmuel Bogler (top left), Mirjam Lapid, Raul Teitelbaum, Yisaschar Dov Goldstein, Thea Friedman and Abba Naor are the six torchlighters at this year’s Yad Vashem ceremony (Courtesy Yad Vashem)

Nadir’s fellow torchlighters include Mirjam Lapid, who was born in the Netherlands and survived Bergen Belsen. Lapid was put on the “lost train,” which traveled for two weeks in April 1945, until the survivors on the train were liberated on April 23, in East Germany. She later joined the Habonim youth movement and immigrated to Israel in 1953, settling in Kibbutz Tzora, where she married and raised six children.

Shmuel Bogler is another torchlighter this year. He was born in Hungary as the youngest in a family of 10 children. He spent his war years in the ghetto and then in Auschwitz, before being sent to the labor camp death march in 1945. After making his way to pre-state Israel in 1947, he joined the Palmach and was taken prisoner by the Jordanian Legion. After the War of Independence, Bogler joined the Israel Police, where he rose in rank to officer.

Dr. Thea Friedman was born in Romania, escaping from the Chernovitz Ghetto and a Bucharest jail during the wartime years. She met her husband after the war, and attended medical school in Romania, practicing there before receiving permission to emigrate to Israel in 1958, with her family. In Israel, Friedman taught ophthalmology at Tel Aviv University.

Journalist Raul Teitelbaum is the fifth torchlighter. Born in Yugoslovia and already part of the local underground movement at age 12, he survived Bergen Belsen and ended up on the “lost train.” After the war, he made his way to Israel with his mother, where he married and raised a family.

The fifth torchlighter is Yisaschar Dov Goldstein, born in Slovakia. His father was a a rabbi, and Goldstein spent time underground hiding with his father, before they were found and deported to Birkenau. His father died, but Goldstein survived the end of the war and the death march to Buchenwald.  He immigrated to Israel and settled on Kibbutz Ein Tzurim, where he married, raised a family, and taught Talmud and Bible to generations of students.

Abba Naor is the sixth torchlighter. He was born in Lithuania and survived the war in a series of labor camps and satellite camps. He reunited with his father after the war, and immigrated to Israel, where he served in the General Security Service and Mossad. Naor still lectures at German schools about his Holocaust experience.

There will be free tours at Yad Vashem in Hebrew on Thursday, April 12, from 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.

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