Israel stands still in memory of the 6 million

May 2, 2019 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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At 10 a.m. on Thursday morning, sirens were sounded for two minutes throughout Israel, bringing the streets to a complete standstill as Israelis marked in unison   Yom HaShoah, Israel’s national Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Israel stands still

Ceremonies were held across the country and places of entertainment were closed.

The official opening ceremony took place on Wednesday evening, in Warsaw Ghetto Square, at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered remarks at the opening ceremony.

In a special statement issued in honor of Yom HaShoah, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, the Chief of General Staff of the IDF, stated that if we could hear the voices of Holocaust victims, “we would hear them asking of us one thing —that we never be dependent on favors from anyone else. We, the commanders and soldiers of the IDF, past, present and future, comprise the defensive forces that they prayed for on their way to the crematoria.”

“The yellow stars have been replaced by combat insignia, and a Star of David flies proudly on the flag of an independent and defended Israel,” he said. “With one hand, we salute the fallen, while we make a fist with the other, prepared to beat down every threat.”

The central theme for this year’s Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day is “The War Within the War: the Struggle of the Jews to Survive During the Holocaust.”

Explaining the theme, Yad Vashem wrote that during the “the Jews in the German-occupied territories had to struggle, both as individuals and collectively, for their very existence and for the survival of their family members and fellow Jews. They risked their lives in frequent acts of solidarity and aid for their persecuted brethren. The struggle for physical survival under the terror of Nazi German rule entailed hiding and escape, smuggling food, administering aid and social welfare, and providing medical care. Jews in underground movements all over Europe attempted to organize a wide range of rescue efforts, in order to save as many other Jews as possible.”

While fighting for their physical existence, the Jews “persisted in their struggle to preserve their Jewish identity, culture and religion. Jews in the ghettos initiated clandestine educational activities, published underground newspapers, and conducted extensive and varied political activities. Observant Jews fought for communal survival, whether by gathering in prayer quora (minyanim), or by adhering, even symbolically, to the rhythm and highlights of the Jewish calendar, even in concentration camps. Jewish music continued to be played in concerts organized by culture committees in the ghettos or in the forests, with musical instruments taken on the run. Drawings, songs and stories were created and hidden away for posterity. Thus, they sought to remember the past, feel the pain of the present, and dream of the future.”

Photo by Esty Dziubov/TPS on 1 May, 2019

Israel came to a standstill on Wednesday night as it began to mark the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day, Yom HaShoah, with an opening ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered their speeches at the ceremony, honoring the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis during World War II.

“Eighty years have gone by since that war broke out where they planned and executed the methodical extermination of the six million of our brothers and sisters,” Rivlin said.

In his speech, the president warned that Israel must not form alliances with extremists and racist groups, who fail to recognize their wrongdoing and responsibility in the Holocaust.

Rivlin continued to speak of Israel’s strength and power in modern times. “I am not afraid for us, for the state of Israel. The Jewish people are no longer weak. It is not defenseless. The state of Israel is not only a stable democracy, we’re also powerful,” Rivlin added.

Netanyahu’s address followed Rivlin’s, emphasizing the significant role of Holocaust survivors in the state of Israel.

“I felt huge pain for this terrible disaster that befell us, but together with that, I felt a huge pride to represent our people who rose from the ashes in our independent state,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu drew references to anti-Semitism rising around the world and in the US, hinting to the recent caricature published in the New York Times. “The publication of caricatures of hate towards Israel undermines the legitimacy of the Jewish state.”

After Netanyahu’s speech, Holocaust survivor Bela Eizenman lit the first torch at the ceremony, followed by Shaul Lubovitz, Fanny Ben-Ami, Menachem Haberman, Sara Shapira, and Yehuda Mimon.

A two-minute-long siren will sound throughout the country on Thursday at 10 am, during which the entire country will pause in unison in memory of the six million Holocaust victims.

Report from: Roseanne Tabachnik/TPS


One Response to “Israel stands still in memory of the 6 million”
  1. Liat Kirby says:

    It is an extraordinary thing to experience the 2-minute-long siren for Yom HaShoah, stand on the road outside your car with car door open, stand where you are on the footpath before the fruit and vegetable shop you were about to enter, wherever you are stand still for those two minutes, with the siren, with the stillness, with the people of Israel. I am privileged to have stood in this way on a roadside near Tel Aviv, and in other places at other times, giving my thoughts and my heart to those who perished during HaShoah while feeling blessed to have Israel which, with all its might and intent, shall ensure ‘never again’.

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