The official ceremony marking the beginning of Holocaust Day is being held at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem in the presence of President Moshe Katsav and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
In his speech, Olmert described the "innocent Jew," armed only with his heritage, angering the Nazis because of Jewish moral values.
"The lesson of World War II is that appeasement, concessions, and weakness are a recipe for a holocaust," he said. "As a Jew, I always carry in my heart the seal of pain over the Holocaust of my brothers and sisters, but I'm proud for being the archenemy of Nazi evil."
President Moshe Katsav said that hatred of Israel still exists, but Israel would not remain complacent against haters of the Jewish state.
"Hatred of Israel has not yet passed from the world and it is thriving mainly here on the soil of the Middle East, and is expressed through calls for the destruction of Israel. I call on the free world not to remain complacent in the face of such calls," Katsav said.
Exhibits at Yad Vashem Holocaust museum (Photo: Reuters)
The traditional siren will blare across the country at 10 a.m. Tuesday and bring life to a halt for a moment of silence, as Israelis remember those murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators.
During the ceremony, six torches will be lit to symbolize the six million Jews killed. Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger will read psalms while Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar will say Kadish (mourning prayer.)
Meanwhile, Yad Vashem launched a national campaign to gather testimonials from survivors at their homes. The museum's Chairman, Avner Shalev, said: "recently more and more survivors find it difficult to get to Yad Vashem, and in order to make it easy for them we must now get to their homes and allow them to provide testimonials in the most convenient way."
Reading out victims' names
Other ceremonies are being held across the country with the participation of children, youths, and adults.
By law, memorial services must be held at every school, as well as educational activities, and educators and teachers are instructed to dedicate classes to the issue. Likewise, school trips, or activities which are not directly connected with the day's events are not held.
Tomorrow, immediately after the morning siren, a ceremony will be held at Yad Vashem and flowers will be placed at the memorial for the fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. President Katsav, Prime Minister Olmert, Knesset Speaker Rivlin, High Court Chief Justice Barak and others will attend.
At the Knesset, the names of victims will be read out starting at 11:00 a.m.
Moran Zelikovich contributed to the report