Photo: Yoav Friedman
Gesher's director Shoshi Becker
Photo: Yoav Friedman

77 percent: Every Jew must visit Poland's death camps

Watch TV special or attend a memorial? Stand up for a minute of silence or study Mishna? Ynet-Gesher poll explores the ways Israelis prefer to commemorate the Holocaust

As on every Holocaust Remembrance Day, this Monday morning a siren will be heard throughout the country. Yet this siren does not mark impending danger.  Instead of seeking shelter, Israelis will stop their daily routine and have a minute of silence in memory of the six million Jewish victims murdered by the Nazis.


A survey conducted for Ynet and the Gesher organization, which aims at bridging gaps between secular and religious Jews, showed that 94 percent of the Jewish Israeli public will drop whatever they are doing and stand in silence until the sound of the siren dies down.


Country brought to a halt for a minute of silence (Photo: AFP)


Who are the remaining six percent? Most are members of the strictly Orthodox community who regard the practice as "non-Jewish" and will ignore the siren, deepening the chasm splitting the Israeli society along religious lines.


The survey was conducted by the Mutagim research institute among a representative sample of 500 respondents, composed of Israel's adult Hebrew-speaking Jewish population.


Question: "Will you stand up as sirens are heard on Yom Hashoah?"


Ninety four percent of the religious and seculars participants said they intended to. A majority of the strictly Orthodox concurred: 65 percent said they would stand, yet a considerable group (35 percent) said they would ignore it.


Question: "Will you attend a memorial?"


Sixty percent of participants said they would attend at least one ceremony. The religious participants are more inclined to attend (76 percent) compared to 21 percent of strictly Orthodox participants.


The one question everyone seems to agree on relates to the importance of visiting the Nazi death camps in Poland: 77 percent of Israelis believe it is the duty of every Jewish person (82 percent of secular participants concurred, 80 percent of traditional, 61 percent of religious and 62 percent of strictly Orthodox). Yet, 18 percent of participants said they feared such a trip would be too traumatic.


Students lighting candles at the Birkenau death camp (Photo: Reuters)


Despite the above finding, only 16 percent of participants say they plan to travel to the killing fields of Poland. Thirty-nine percent said they had not been there yet and did not plan on doing so in the next couple of years. Thirty-two percent said they planned to visit in the near future.


The survey demonstrated that Jewish people of all walks of life felt the need to connect to the national collective memory using ceremonies, symbols and a shared text, said Gesher's director Shoshi Becker.


"The act of remembering together brings us closer to one another," she added.


פרסום ראשון: 04.15.07, 19:07
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