From Jerusalem, Israel, on Monday, April 20, 2020, at 8:00 pm (Israel time), the official Opening Ceremony for Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 5780 will be broadcast from Warsaw Ghetto Square at Yad Vashem on the Mount of Remembrance, on Yad Vashem’s website and Facebook page.
Following the advice of psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, in his autobiography “Man’s Search for Meaning” – “What matters is to make the best of any given situation.”
This year the ceremony was pre-recorded without an audience due to restrictions of the pandemic coronavirus COVID19.
The ceremony will comprise traditional elements, including prerecorded video remarks by Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Naomi Cassuto will speak on behalf of the survivors.
Yad Vashem Council Chairman and Holocaust survivor Rabbi Israel Meir Lau will kindle the Memorial Torch as he has done many times in the past.
In this photo, the Rabbi is pointing to himself as a child soon after liberation, sitting with a group of US army soldiers and other Jewish survivors.
During the ceremony, six traditional memorial torches will be lit.
The stories of six Holocaust survivors featured this year are the following: the first torch– Zohar Arnon– second– Aviva Blum-Wachs; third–Haim Arbiv; fourth- Leah Reuveni; fifth–Avraham Carmi; and sixth– Yehuda Beilis.
In the past, a child or grandchild assisted each torch lighter,
often wearing an IDF uniform. Frankl’s words: ‘to turn from tragedy and suffering to human achievement and accomplishment’ are exemplified in the faces of those lighting the memorial torches.
Israeli singers Shiri Maimon and Shai Tzabari will participate in the ceremony, which will also include narrative pieces written by Holocaust survivor Jack Weber, and recited by Israeli actor Zohar Straus. The MC for the ceremony will be Danny Cushmaro.
The ceremony will feature the traditional memorial service, including the recitation of a chapter from Psalms by Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi David Lau. The Rishon LeZion, Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef will recite the mourner’s Kaddish, and Cantor Daniel Dahan will recite El Maleh Rahamim, the Jewish prayer for the souls of the martyrs.
To mark Holocaust Remembrance Day this year, when public gatherings have been banned in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak worldwide, Yad Vashem has asked the public to participate in an international campaign to record themselves reciting the names of Holocaust victims, and share the video on social media using the hashtags #RememberingFromHome #ShoahNames.
“Join us and mark Holocaust Remembrance Day this year from your homes,” said Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev. “Help us to restore the memory of those murdered during the Holocaust, as you do each and every year. Although the circumstances this year are unique, the message is still the same: We will never forget their names.”
Photographs are from RJS previous visits to Yad Vashem.
Background noise interfered with our recording in the private room where the torch lighters and their invited family members gathered before the ceremony. It was a very different feeling than the ominous silence during the short videos presented during the ceremony relating each of the survivor stories. In this room, this gathering felt more like a party. A celebration. A triumph of good over evil. We survived. Proudly, see what we have accomplished.
To conclude, HaTikvah from last year
The Hope for better times ahead for all.