Holocaust Remembrance Day to Shabbat: Darkness to Light

Holocaust Remembrance Day to Shabbat: Darkness to Light

January 27, 1945,

 the Auschwitz Concentration Camp was liberated.

 In 2005, the UN set the day of January 27

to remember the victims of the Holocaust.

What better place to remember than Yad Vashem.

In the Vad Vashem Synagogue are remnants of the past.

Romania Lions supporting Ten Commandments

Displayed artifacts from Romania,

Romanian Aron Kodesh

including part of an Aron Kodesh, the Holy Ark

where the Torah scrolls were kept.

Torah from Transnistria and mantel from Greece in Yad Vashem

A Torah from Mantte, Transnistria,

covered by a mantle from Salonika, Greece,

stands on exhibit in the back of the synagogue.

Diary of Holocaust experience Yad Vashem

This tiny diary holds memories,

of those who so much wanted to live,

expressions of the human spirit.

Display Yad Vashem children exhibit

Stored in Yad Vashem are photos and memories

of those who survived and those who perished.

Not all have names.

Children, so many children murdered.

They left no diaries.

Child survivors are growing older and dying.

Dolls from Holocaust on exhibit at Yad Vashem

Soon a doll collection and memories

will be all that remains.

Holocaust Remembrance Day falls on a Friday this year.

But as the sun sets it will be Shabbat,

and Rosh Chodesh Shevat,

the new month that ushers in the spring.

From the darkness of the Holocaust,

it is time for a new season and renewal.

שבת שלום

image shabat shalom and love

חודש טוב

Chodesh tov.

Yom HaShoah at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem

Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day,

began with an official ceremony at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel.

Traffic on the way to Har Herzl to get to the ceremony

was backed up for blocks,

image Israel apartheid, photo Arabs Jerusalem, Palestinians picture

  it was faster to get out and walk to the shuttle buses,

rather than to sit in the line of cars.

Those watching the opening ceremony at home on TV,

photo security, image security

did not have to come hours early and go through layers of security.

But this year I did go and we were lucky,

as it was warmer than usual.

image Asher Aud, photo Holocaust survivor, picture torch lighter

The Holocaust survivor to light the first of six memorial torches was Asher Aud.

His son Tziki Aud leads one of my favorite organizations,

the Lone Soldier Center in memory of Michael Levin.

As with many other survivors,

without proper food during their growing years,

the children tower over their parents.

image large photo lens, picture of lenses for camera

Photographers were ready with powerful lenses.

image IDF, photo soldiers, picture soldier

Every beret had to be perfect,

image soldiers, photo IDF< picture Yad Vashem

for the honor guard on stage,

image soldiers, picture young soldiers, photo IDF

standing at attention for most of the program.

One advantage of attending a TV broadcast

is that you know it will start on time.

image rabbis, photo dignitaries, picture Jerusalem mayor

Even dignitaries had to arrive early, so there was time to chat.

image Rabbi Lau, photo Rabbi Yisrael Mei Lau, picture Rabbi Lau

Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau lit the large memorial torch to open the program

image memorial flame, photo Yad Vashem, picture flame at Yad Vashem

and passed the lighter to a soldier who saluted before leaving the stage.

image violinist, photo man playing violin, picture violinist

Sanya Kroitor played during the first of the musical interludes.

image Shimon Peres, photo Peres speaking, picture large screens

A large screen on each side of the stage projected

a huge image of the speakers to thousands seated in the plaza.

image Benjamin Netanyahu, photo Israeli prime minister speaking, picture Bbi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke after President Peres.

image Yad Vashem, photo ceremony Yom HaShoah, picture Remembrance Day

The lights and colors were great for photos,

but I wondered how the view was for two people watching  from on top?

photo Yad Vashem, image torch, picture torch lighting

Each survivor honored to light a memorial torch stood

as a video with Hebrew and English subtitles retold their story.

The audience was silent,

listening to their incredible stories of survival.

image memorial, photo Yad Vashem, picture lights

Six grandchildren stood ready to help each grandparent.

image Shimon Peres with crowd, photo Peres at YadVashem, picture President shaking hands

At the end of the ceremony, President Shimon Peres went to shake their hands.

image Yad Vashem, photo Yad Vashem, picture Yad Vashem memorial

Then thousands had to get out of Yad Vashem and to find their way home.

On Yom HaShoah, there were way too many other programs

in community centers, synagogues and schools to mention here.

image Israeli flag, large Israel flags blowing photo, picture blue and white flags

Israeli flags were flying at Har Herzl cemetery parking lot.

The season “the Yoms” has started,

Israeli flags are popping up everywhere,

first Yom HaShoah,

 next week Yom Hazikaron, followed by Yom Ha’atzmaut.

image Israel 66, photo Yom Haatzmaut, picture Israel birthday

Signs are up announcing the celebration of Israel 66 on May 6.

#NeverAgain                #WeAreHere

UPDATE:

How could I?

I forget one of “the Yoms!”

As soon as I approached the Montefiore Windmill,

my mistake was obvious.

Busloads of children on school trips are on the streets,

Yom Yerushalyim is May 28.

Two Different Worlds

In many parts of the world books may be going out of style, 

but in Jerusalem book launches happen all the time.

People come to buy the book,

 hear the author talk about it and stand in line to have it autographed.

One such event–of exceptional proportions–took place this week, 

when former Chief Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau came to Jerusalem

to introduce the English translation of his autobiography,

entitled, “Out of the Depths.”

A long line formed as people waited for an hour to have

Rabbi Lau sign their book before the 8:00pm lecture was to begin.

Rabbi Lau spoke in English in the main sanctuary of The Great Synagogue,

where he pointed to the spot where in 1993 he was sworn in as chief rabbi.

He told the audience of his childhood during World War II:

how as a small five-year old, he lost family and home.

A thousand people listened as he told of the trauma of his mother 

pushing him away from her, off the train and to certain death,

towards his older brother and a chance to live. 

From the depths of the Buchenwald concentration camp

he arrived in Eretz Yisroel after the war, an eight-year old with no education,

but was able to continue the long line of his family’s rabbinic dynasty.

As Rabbi Lau spoke I was thinking of a different world.

We were travelling in and out of Jerusalem a few times this week

and each time we had to wait as cars were searched.

Sometimes the person at the front of the line had his papers examined.

Today an Arab woman was found trying to get in a 30 cm knife,

yesterday 19 pipe bombs were found before they could be used.

Dozens of medical cases came into Israel this week and

 88,000 flowers from Gaza were exported through Israel.

Leaving the building, 

if you look to the right you will see this sign.

The survivors of the Holocaust lived through the worst of times,

from less than nothing, they went on to build new lives and families.

The world has given millions and millions of dollars to the PA,

 what have they built?

More photos from the book signing:

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.306051199437692.70628.152997821409698&type=1