Contributed by CAMERA interns Sarah Salinger and Aaron Hunt.
Today, the world commemorates Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. In no country is this day more poignant than in Israel, where at 10:00 AM each year, sirens wail throughout the country. Across the country, all activity stops for two minutes as Israelis stand in silent commemoration.
Even on highways, traffic comes to a standstill as motorists stop and step out of their vehicles; in restaurants and shops, employees and patrons alike pause to reflect; on sidewalks, pedestrians stop walking to honor the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis in Eastern Europe, as well as the millions of survivors of Nazi persecution. Here is a clip of a busy Israeli highway coming to a stop in order to observe two minutes of silence:
Throughout the day, TV stations broadcast Holocaust themed movies and documentaries, while schools hold ceremonies and host speakers. Perhaps most well known are the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day events at Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial and museum. The ceremonies begin after sunset on the eve of Yom HaShoah and continue through the following day.
This year, the opening ceremony began at 8:00 PM on Wednesday, April 15th. Attending the first event were the President, Prime Minister, Speaker of the Knesset, and the President of the Supreme Court, among others. During the ceremony, which was broadcast live on radio and television, six Holocaust survivors each lit a torch, with each flame representing one million Jews killed in the Holocaust. This year’s torch lighters were Shela Altaraz, Avraham Harshalom, Eggi Lewysohn, Ephraim Reichenberg, Dov Shimoni, and Sara Weinstein.
Top row from left to right: Shela Altaraz, Avraham Harshalom, Eggi Lewysohn
Bottom row from left to right: Ephraim Reichenberg, Dov Shimoni, Sara Weinstein