From Jerusalem a Week of Loss and Memorials

In Jerusalem, we have begun the annual roller coast emotional time of the YomsYom Shaoh, Yom HaZikaron, and Yom Ha’atzmaut going from mourning those lost in the Holocaust and fallen in Israel, followed by Independence Day.

This year after the October 7 Massacre with 132 hostages still held captive in Gaza by Hamas, mourning is more intense and personal, and celebrations more tempered to mark 76 years of independence.

The flags at the entrance of Har Herzl Military Cemetry were at half-mast as Yom Hashoah was to begin.

As usual, an honor guard stood for the official opening ceremony of Yom Hashoa at Yad Vashem.

The Israeli flag was lowered and the trumpet sounded as all stood for the televised program with 6 survivors, each honored to light a torch in memory of the 6 million murdered in the Holocaust.

Photographers were around to capture the moments as usual in the Warsaw Ghetto Plaza.

But I had already taken a photo earlier of what was new, the yellow chair symbolic of the hostages placed next to the seat of former President Reuven Rivlin in the row for dignitaries.

The crowd as usual extended well back in the plaza.

The torch lighters as usual stood in quiet and dignity waiting to be called upon to light the torch.

As their impressive stories were shared in videos, one for each survivor, I often wondered what they were thinking, standing there before hundreds of people with thousands more watching on TV.

The torches were lit, the President and Prime Minister spoke and the memorial ceremony by the Chief Rabbis went on as in the past, without interruptions.

This week the Israeli flags have been spotted popping up on cars as usual.

But not usual was the gathering before Yom HaZikaron at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence.

Survivors of fallen soldiers were asked to share their stories with the President and his wife.

Sadly more babies and young children were in the audience that day than usual.

The next day a special showing of Sheryl Sandberg’s “Screams Before Silence” was shown. The hour-long video is available for free on YouTube. The retelling of the horrible events of sexual abuse on October 7 is done with respect toward the victims and should be mandatory viewing for all deniers.

The panel afterward included the director and others involved in the important production.

Outside, the Beit Hanasi back garden was being set up for Yom Haatzmaut’s annual ceremonies.

Flyover rehearsals were heard over the Jerusalem streets. Not everyone was pleased by the loud sounds of the planes, but they went so fast that I could not get a clear image. However, the sounds of cars honking in appreciation were evident after the first ones.

Cemetery in Gush with view of military graves

There are too many new graves this year, and the numbers go up too often, the number of 1,541 has changed again with five new soldiers killed in Gaza.

The posters for “LetThemGoNOW” and yellow ribbons increase daily.

But to end the week of memorials, well into the night, Eden Golan represented Israel well and with dignity in the Eurovision musical competition held this year in Sweden.

She showed that even by coming in fifth place one can truly shine as a winner. Under exceptional pressure from anti-Israel mobs, she performed with class and proudly held the Israel flag overhead.

We have a choice on Yom HaZikaron to be broken or proud, Eden has chosen to be proud.

Holocaust Remembrance Day in Jerusalem

Holocaust Remembrance Day in Jerusalem

This year Yom HaShoah,  Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day, as it is officially called, was observed from Wednesday night to Thursday night.

The State Ceremony held at Yad Vashem was broadcast live on Israeli television.  As has become traditional, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau lit the large memorial torch.

Stage at Yad Vashem for Yom HaShoah with memorial flame lit

President Reuven Rivlin spoke to the crowd, which was so spread out in the plaza that most guests had to watch the large screens on each side of the stage in order to see the program.

Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at Yad Vashem on Yom Hashoah

After a musical interlude, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke.

Yad Vashem supporters from around the world come to attend the emotional ceremony.

Lighting memorial flame at Yad Vashem on Yom HaShoah

Six survivors, one by one, aided by a younger family member, lit the six memorial flames for six million murdered Jews.

Survivors and young relative lighting flame at Yad Vashem on Yom HaShoah

The life stories of the six survivors are presented in six short videos. One theme runs through these brief glimpses into the past: having arrived in Israel after undergoing difficulties that are beyond imagination, they are proud to have succeeded in raising new generations of proud and accomplished Jews.

The past cannot be redone. But,

IDF honor guard at Yad Vashem for Yom HaShoah

each year the IDF Honor Guard stands on the stage. The young soldiers are symbols of a bright future.

The traditional prayer for the dead is recited each year. I thought I could hear the words reverberating from the Judean Hills around us.

At 10:00 am, the next morning, a two-minute siren sounded. Jerusalem stopped to remember.

The day was marked by a long list of programs honoring survivors and remembering the victims.

Much more, but I decided to end with the Hatikvah which concluded the Yad Vashem ceremony.

Hope for the future.

Mourn and celebrate.

Live life.

Jerusalem has a very long list of public events free of charge for Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s 70th Independence Day, iwhich will be  celebrated next week.

Going to need some time to rest up first.

Shabbat Shalom

Jerusalem, Yom HaShoah Remembered Here

As Yom Hashoah,

Holocaust Remembrance Day, began in Israel,

 US Secretary of State John Kerry was in the Middle East

again meeting with Abbas,


 Kassam rockets were again fired from Gaza into Israel.

While a select few attended the main ceremony at Yad Vashem,

thousands watched it live on television as

President Shimon Peres began his speech:

“The Holocaust will not sink into the dark hole of history.

It is here with us, burning, real…

Yom Hashoah picture, Holocaust photo

It floats like a ghost in the barracks of the camps.”

How does one choose a meaningful way to mark Yom Hashoah?

Image for Holocaust Remembrance

This sign on the wall outside of the Great Synagogue

Holocaust sign in Hebrew

and its counterpart in Hebrew shone brightly in the dark.

Israeli Knesset at night

The flag on the Knesset Building was lowered.

Restaurants closed their doors and locked their gates by 8:00 pm.

Where does one go?

This year Israel Forever, Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Jerusalem Municipality

Holocaust remembrance day

sponsored an event that attracted hundreds of young people. 

Picture from Holocaust

After a slide presentation and slow music, 

photo of lighting candles Yom Hashoah

six large candles were lit

photo candle for Holocaust program

 in memory of the six million who died.

Crowd for Adopt a Safta

Then there was a minute of silence,

slowly and silently, the overcrowded,

Crowd for Holocaust program

 packed audience spontaneously rose to their feet.

It was an impressive sight.

The room was so quiet that one could hear a pin drop.

The Facebook advert brought in hundreds of  young people 

Holocaust remembrance day

who wanted to take part in a meaningful way.

The Adopt a Safta program was then presented to the audience.

It could be an important “link” that President Peres spoke of,

a link of the generations, beneficial to all.

Yom Hashoah, here in Jerusalem, Israel

was a time to remember.

Picture of Yellow star Jews had to wear

Never again.