Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 5780

Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 5780

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.

Stage at Yad Vashem for Yom HaShoah with memorial flame lit

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.

Rabbi Y M Lau pointing to himself as a child in large photo in Yad Vashem

 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. 

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

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

Lighting memorial flame at Yad Vashem on Yom HaShoah

In the past, a child or grandchild assisted each torch lighter,

Light a torch at Yad Vashem for Yom HaShoah

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.

Yom Hashoa victims photos at Yad Vashem

“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.

For the ceremony when Shimon Peres was President click here.

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.

Behind the scenes with RJS in 2016 click here.

To conclude, HaTikvah from last year

The Hope for better times ahead for all.

Never Again.

#RememberingFromHome #ShoahNames.

 

 

Jerusalem One Summer Night of Two Hugs

Jerusalem One Summer Night of Two Hugs

Oft repeated here,

you never know what you will find on the Jerusalem, Israel streets.

Antique car on Jerusalem Israel street

This cute little “Electric Bimba” on the street certainly fits the theme.

Forty three degrees in car parked in sun

As the Jerusalem temperature was rising outside, our car parked in the sun went to 43 degrees C, over 100 degrees F. I have no idea what the temperature was in the old revved up personal transporter.

Fountain in Teddy Park Jerusalem Israel

People gather at Teddy Park in the evening, for the water fountain to go on and cool off.

Jerusalem Israel Yad Vashem

One place with thousands of visitors daily, no matter what the weather, is Yad Vashem.

A very special event was held on July 25 in the evening.

Rabbi Y M in Yad Vashem synagogue

As Rav Yisrael Meir Lau Israel’s former Chief Rabbi told his story, he looked at an image projected on the wall of the synagogue.

The occasion was a conference on Holocaust education for North American Jewish educators.

The image was that of him as an 8-year old child.

A Holocaust and concentration camp survivor, the image shows him sitting on a bench between Jewish US Army soldiers who liberated Buchenwald.

Sixty percent of the concentration camp survivors died during the first few days after liberation.  His older brother Naftali z”l was ill, so weak he was unconscious, and was not aware of liberation until much later.

Rabbi Hershel Schacter z”l, was the US Army chaplain who entered with the liberating US Army, who extended his hand to the frightened little boy.

Next to speak was his son, Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter, who told the story of his father’s desire to serve in the US Army during wartime.

From the Yad Vashem synagogue, after listening to the emotional remarks from both rabbis, the assembled group walked solemnly into the main building.

Rabbi Y M Lau pointing to himself as a child in large photo in Yad Vashem

There Rabbi Lau pointed to where he sat amid the US Jewish soldiers and Holocaust survivors in the famous image.

On the far left side of this US Army photograph, is Rabbi Schacter z”l, 25 years old, leading the Shavuot holiday service.

Rabbi Y M Lau at Yad Vashem near photo of himself as a child

In Jerusalem, in Yad Vashem, in the hall of memories, Rabbi Lau spoke with the son of Rabbi Schacter z”l of his first Jewish memories as a survivor.

Near photo of his father Rabbi JJ Schacter hugs Rabbi Y M Lau who was also in the image as a child after liberation

The two men hugged in front of the iconic image, in the presence of Rabbi Schacter’s z”l extended family, which included a great-grandson.

A unique and meaningful hug, spanning decades of history, uniting liberators and survivors.

Jerusalem is a city, of contrasts, old and new, and diverse realities.

Jerusalem Film Festival opening night

From Yad Vashem, as the sun was setting, I rushed to the Jerusalem Film Festival opening in the Sultan’s Pool.Jerusalem Film Festival in Sultan's Pool

The screen could be seen from the Cinematheque, with the walls of the Old City in the background.

Jerusalem Film Festival Israeli President Rivlin speaking at opening event

President Reuven Rivlin was the honored guest, as a new film award was initiated in memory of his wife Nechama z”l.

Jerusalem Film Festival Paul Newman

In the opening video presentation along with greetings from Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion and Sports and Cultural Minister Miri Regev, were clips from the movie Exodus.

Paul Newman in Exodus in opening video at Jerusalem Film Festival

I wonder how many people learned of the establishment of modern Israel and were influenced by Paul Newman in this 1960 movie.

Dr Ruth and President Reuven Rivlin

As for the second hug of the evening, Dr. Ruth Westheimer is back in Jerusalem. The documentary movie of her fascinating life was a feature of this annual film festival.

Jerusalem Film Festival honoree Katzriel Schori

Katriel Schori received an award for lifetime achievement in Israeli film.

View from Cinematheque of Old City and Sultan's Pool at Jerusalem Film Festival

I left before the main film was shown, but I could see Schori accepting his award on the screen.

Jerusalem Food Truck in Haginon Park

Down below in the valley the Food Truck Festival was going strong.

Thousands of people were out enjoying the cooler evening temperatures on very crowded Jerusalem streets.

Back to the Future with the Philharmonic orchestra performing live near the Old City walls was sold out days before. It was a Jerusalem Film Festival success.

However, the film festival has open and free film showings in various neighborhood parks.

Jerusalem film festival sign for public free film

This sign in Arnona is for a film on Wednesday night in Baka.   It will be shown free of charge outside in a park.

Jerusalem Israel parks signs in Arabic and Hebrew to keep clean

Signs in Arabic and Hebrew request that the parks be left clean.

Day or night, another week with many and diverse happenings on the Jerusalem streets.

Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembered in Jerusalem

Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembered in Jerusalem

They tried to kill us. We are here.

The official Opening Ceremony for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day took place on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in Warsaw Ghetto Square of Yad Vashem, on Mount of Remembrance, near Har Herzl in Jerusalem, Israel. 

Holocaust Memorial IDF honor guard

The IDF honor guard posed for photographers before the ceremony.

Two women greeting at ceremony for Yom Hahsoah

For the invited guests it is a time to see and greet long time friends.

Group of German journalists for Holocaust Remembrance Day in Jerusalem Israel

This year a group of German journalists attended.

Holocaust memorial Israeli President Rivlin first speaker

After dark, the Israeli flag was lowered to half mast, and a ceremonial flame was lit.

Israeli President Rivlin at yad Vashem

President Reuven Rivlin was the first speaker.

Israeli Prime Minister at Yom Hashoan

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke next.

There were musical interludes, and dramatic readings.

Six torches lit by survivors at Yad Vashem for Yom Hashoah

Before each one of the six survivors lit their torch, a short video about their lives was screened.

Each flame represents one million lost souls, murdered in Holocaust.

Honor guard at Holocaust Remembrance Day opening ceremony at Yad Vashem

Meanwhile, the honor guard stood at attention the entire time.

Netanyahu greeting honor guard

As last year, the Prime Minister went to shake hands with the soldiers in the honor guard.

Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at Yad Vashem head of IDF speaking with Sara Netanyahu

As last year, while the event was being televised, movement was restricted. (Ok, I thought it was much better this year, maybe because there were fewer foreign photographers?) But as soon as the official program was over, I was able to go up front and take this photo. The honor guard was still at attention, but the rest of us were talking and heading home.

At Yad Vashem, the crowd stood still for HaTikvah.

HaTikvah, The Hope, takes on greater meaning when remembering the past.

The Jerusalem Municipality also marked Holocaust Remembrance Day with a ceremony held in Kikar Safra, Safra Square, the mayor of Jerusalem, Moshe Lion, city council members, survivors, attended the event, which was open to the public. This year the ceremonies were under the theme “War Within a War – the struggle for survival of Jews in the Holocaust.”

Zichron B’Salon, Memories in Living Room, hosted dozens of smaller, parlor meetings in Jerusalem on Holocaust Remembrance Day. In private homes throughout the city of Jerusalem survivors retold their stories in these more intimate groups and settings. President Reuven Rivlin hosted a group in Beit Hanasi on Sunday morning as he has done for the past several years.

Restaurants and entertainment venues were closed at night.

The next morning on May 2, a memorial siren sounded at 10:00 am.

A wreath laying ceremony was held at Yad Vashem.

Organizations, communities, schools, and businesses held programs, with survivors speaking.

The Knesset had a special recitation of names of Nazi victims.

Israel memorial day flame on Jerusalem synagogue

Flags on public buildings flew at half-mast and memorial flames were displayed.

Child survivors are aging.  We cannot change the past. Now that they have grandchildren and great-grandchildren, they are celebrating.  The grandchildren and great-grandchildren are the future.  “This is our revenge,” I have heard over and over. They are celebrating life. We are here.

Light a torch at Yad Vashem for Yom HaShoah

So many stories. So many memories of tragedies and miracles.

Six million murdered by Nazis is too hard to comprehend.

Where were the civilized countries? Canada. British in Palestine. The United States.

All turned their backs.

To conclude, one memory, from one friend from Kristalnacht, the night the world turned dark.