Israel commemorates Holocaust Remembrance Day

Events begin at Yad Vashem's Warsaw Ghetto square; The son of Iran's deposed Shah will attend along with President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while the the solemn words of Holocaust survivors will be shared

Itamar Eichner, Iris Lifshitz Klieger|
Tonight, ceremonies commencing the events of Holocaust Remembrance Day at Yad Vashem begin at 20:00. President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will deliver speeches and Yad Vashem chairman Danny Dayan will raise the memorial torch.
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The survivors' words will be shared by Shoshana Weiss, a Holocaust survivor. Shuli Rand will recite a prayer known as, "Merciful God".
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טקס יום הזיכרון לשואה ביד ושם
טקס יום הזיכרון לשואה ביד ושם
Ceremonies to begin tonight
(Photo: AFP)
Reza Koresh Ali Pahlavi, the son of Iran's last Shah Reza Pahlavi, who was deposed during the Islamic Revolution in 1979, will join President Herzog and Prime Minister Netanyahu at the state gathering.
As a guest of Minister of Intelligence Gila Gamliel, the Shah's son on a historic visit to Israel will address the threats of annihilation from Iran.
Yad Vashem is inviting the public for the first time this year to visit a new exhibit called Sefer Hashemot (Book of Names). This is a large-scale display that showcases the names of 4,800,000 Holocaust victims that Yad Vashem has collected since its establishment.
The names are printed on pages measuring approximately 5 feet by 3 feet, and the book's length spans around 26 feet.
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טובה גיטלה גוטשטיין, בן ציון רייש,  יהודית סולברג, ראובן בונפיל, יפים גימלשטיין, מלכה רנדל
טובה גיטלה גוטשטיין, בן ציון רייש,  יהודית סולברג, ראובן בונפיל, יפים גימלשטיין, מלכה רנדל
Holocaust survivors who will be in attendance
(Photo: Israel Hadari, Yad Vashem, Yitzhak Harari)
Holocaust Remembrance Day is also commemorated by the IDF, and Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi expressed his sentiments in a letter to the soldiers.
"Today, we stand here to honor the memory of the six million souls who perished and to pay tribute to the survivors who, despite the destruction, made their way here and helped build our home," the letter says. "We listen to their stories, remember their struggles, and carry their legacy with us every step of the way."
At 14:30 Israel time tomorrow, the much-anticipated March of Life will kick off in Poland, standing as one of the most significant events of Holocaust Remembrance Day.
This year marks its 35th anniversary, and thousands of participants from all around the world are expected to join in. After being suspended for three years due to the coronavirus pandemic, the march will include delegations from over 25 countries.
Among the attendees is writer and poet Lina Birnbaum, who spent her childhood in the Warsaw ghetto and witnessed the uprising from a bunker before being deported to Majdanek and then Auschwitz.
"I lived through the Holocaust in its full magnitude," she says. "I have experienced its horrors firsthand."
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מצעד החיים באושוויץ
מצעד החיים באושוויץ
The march of life in Auschwitz
(Photo: AP)
The March's chairman, Dr. Rosenman, emphasized that this year's event will showcase the Jewish heroes of the Holocaust. "For years, the Jewish community has been viewed solely as a victim, portrayed as meekly submitting to their fate," he said. "Young individuals in Israel and all over the Jewish diaspora are not sufficiently aware of the numerous acts of heroism carried out by hundreds and thousands of Jews during the Holocaust. As a global educational institution, it is our duty to highlight and underscore these narratives."
In the upcoming week, the pin below that was once worn by a Nazi officer in Auschwitz will be exhibited to thousands. Ofira Azrieli, who writes about the Holocaust, was given a pin during a lecture in New Jersey.
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הסיכה של הקצין הנאצי מאושוויץ
הסיכה של הקצין הנאצי מאושוויץ
The Nazi officer's pin
A woman approached her in tears after the lecture and shared the story of her mother, Janet, who was a prisoner in Auschwitz. Janet was terrified of the Nazi officer, standing there with his baton.
On the day of liberation from the camp, Janet saw the officer lying motionless on the ground, unsure if he was alive or dead. She quickly tore off the iron pin from his lapel, which bore a swastika, foreign letters (possibly B and L representing his name), and a long number on the back (possibly his military ID number), and escaped. She kept the pin hidden in her home in New Jersey for over 70 years.
Azrieli said that her encounter with the emotional woman who shared her mother's story and entrusted her with the Nazi officer's pin inspired her to incorporate the object into her lectures on the Holocaust.
She believes that displaying the pin and recounting its history can bring a powerful message to students and other audiences, who often line up to see it up close.
Azrieli sees her mission in life as keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive, as the number of survivors who can still share their stories dwindles and antisemitism and Holocaust denial persists in the world.
She urges her listeners to join her in this effort to ensure that the lessons of the Holocaust are not forgotten.
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