This year is especially painful as it marks the 60th anniversary since the end of World War II.
A moment of silence will be held on Thursday at
10 a.m. (3 a.m. EST), in memory of those who perished during the war.
President Moshe Katsav opened the ceremony in Jerusalem by saying, "the wounds of the Jewish people will never heal."
"Prior to the liberation, survivors would not permit themselves to think about the future beyond the next day," he said. "Most survivors were able to return to their lives, but were faced with difficult tests of survival - loneliness, losing their parents, brothers, children and homes."
The Jewish nation and Jewish history thank you for your contribution to building the state, its security,
economy and culture, Katsav told Holocaust survivors at the ceremony.
"You are the inspiration for humanity, the history
of humanity," he said.
'Jews will never be homeless again'
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon also participated in the ceremony. He said he would be traveling to Poland on Thursday to take part in "The March of the Living".
"I'm traveling with Holocaust survivors that survived the horrors and chose to make Aliyah to Israel and build their homes here," he said. "I requested they bring their grandchildren, IDF soldiers, along with them to 'The March of the living'."
"Tomorrow they will stand at Birkenau with uniformed soldiers, however this time they will not be enemy soldiers…they will be the grandchildren of survivors who are IDF soldiers today, Israel's protective shield," he said. "The Jews will never be homeless again. Never again will we be unprepared, never again."
Six torches will be lit during the ceremony in memory of the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust.
Meanwhile, a group of right-wingers protesters arrived at Yad Vashem carrying signs reading, "The Disengagement is a holocaust for the people of Israel and their land."
They agreed to remove the signs after police threatened to arrest them.
- Merav Yudilovitch contributed to the report