Today in Israel is Yom HaShoah here in Israel and I wanted it to be a part of this blog.
(Sorry for the quality, as I still am without my camera.)
About today’s importance, via wikipedia:
“Yom HaShoah was inaugurated in 1953, anchored in a law signed by the Prime Minister of Israel David Ben-Gurion and the President of Israel Yitzhak Ben-Zvi. The original proposal was to hold Yom HaShoah on the 14th of Nisan, the anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising (April 19, 1943), but this was problematic because the 14th of Nisan is the day immediately before Pesach (Passover). The date was moved to the 27th of Nisan, which is eight days before Yom Ha’atzma’ut, or Israeli Independence Day.”
Central theme of Holocaust Day 2012: My Brother’s Keeper: Holocaust Remembrance Day begins at 8 P.M. Wednesday night at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.
The above photo is a screen shot of a few places on the Internet Wednesday night, with the aim to show you how things change on certain days here in Israel unlike other parts of the world. (This photo is of Israeli TV Channels 10 and 2, via the Internet with Haartz.com in the backdrop.) Wednesday night, at 8.00 PM, the beginning of Yom HaShoah events started throughout the country in honor of those 6 million Jews who were killed during WWII. This event is somewhat political (something I try to stay away from in this blog and I hope you won’t hold it against me), but I wanted to do a small post about the cultural significance of today here in Israel. The events of this day are unlike anything I have ever come to witness in any other country for any other historical event. The T.V. channels, at least more than those who don’t (mostly the foreign channels, BBC, ect.), all feature shows about the survivors and the stories of those who were killed from 8.oo pm Wednesday night to sundown on Thursday. Flags are also at half-mast by sundown Wednesday night. And for about two minutes right at 10.00 am Thursday morning, people around Israel paused and stood in silence to honor those who were killed.
Today, Thursday, at 10.oo AM was when the alarm went off throughout Israel and people stopped and stood where they are, in silence and stillness, until the alarm stopped. This means wherever you are: cars on highways, buses, in school: everyone (who wishes to show their respect) stops what they are doing and stands in silence. These are the moments you’ll never forget once you experience them the first time and understand exactly what it means to be standing where you are today, with only the memory of so many that will never stand here with you. I remember last year when I was at the kibbutz, where they also hold a little ceremony every year right before the siren, and I remember seeing my partner’s kid sisters cry. Their tears affected me like nothing else.
This is to honor all of those who are not with us today: we remember and honor you.
More from Wiki,
“Yom HaShoah opens in Israel at sundown in a state ceremony held at the Warsaw Ghetto Plaza at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes Authority, in Jerusalem. During the ceremony the national flag is lowered to half mast, the President and the Prime Minister both deliver speeches, Holocaust survivors light six torches symbolizing the approximately six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust and theChief Rabbis recite prayers.
At 10:00 am on Yom HaShoah, sirens are sounded throughout Israel for two minutes. During this time, people cease from action and stand at attention; cars stop, even on the highways; and the whole country comes to a standstill as people pay silent tribute to the dead.
On Yom HaShoah ceremonies and services are held at schools, military bases and in other public and community organizations.
On the eve of Yom HaShoah and the day itself, places of public entertainment are closed by law. Israeli television airs Holocaust documentaries and Holocaust-related talk shows, and low-key songs are played on the radio. Flags on public buildings are flown at half mast.“
There are many videos on Youtube that show various places in Israel when the sirens go off and what it is like to be here during those moments, if you want to view some of them. Click this http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=yom+hashoah and watch the ones you want. Here is one of the Tel Aviv Highway, where most traffic (on the highway) comes to a complete standstill: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_7RRBH1jgs. And this one, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmmvnsSeH_8&feature=related.
Lessons in Love: A documentary to be broadcast tonight charts the heartbreaking journey of two brothers from the Krakow ghetto to Israel and of their eventual deep reconnection to each other.
Israeli and world leaders must stop using the Holocaust for political goals. When the Holocaust is politicized, for whatever purpose or reason, our duty to remember is tainted by the machinations of petty political interest.
Update: The date of April 19th was specifically chosen as the Holocaust Memorial Day to honor those who fought back during April 19, 1942 during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and to honor the Jewish Spirit of courage, rather than place all the focus on being the victim, Israel decided upon this date. Read a in-depth article about the Uprising here, http://www1.yadvashem.org/odot_pdf/microsoft%20word%20-%206509.pdf.