As on every year, flower wreaths were laid at Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. The Knesset held its annual ceremony of the reading out of victims' names.
President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu both read out the names of their family members who died in the Holocaust.
"In memory of my family members who were slaughtered together with 2,060 members of their community, Vishneva, in August 1942, by the Nazis and their local allies who amassed the Jews in the wooden synagogue and burned them alive," Peres said.
"In 1933 my father-in-law, Shmuel Ben-Artzi, at age 18, left his home town in Poland for Warsaw, and from there to Israel," Netanyahu said.
"His father Moshe accompanied him to the train station in Warsaw. He tried to convince him throughout the trip, as well as on the train platform, to stay with his family in Poland.
"Shmuel was divided in his heart because on the one hand he loved his family very much – his father, his brothers, and his little sisters – but on the other hand he wanted to follow his dream and be a pioneer in the Land of Israel, and this is what he decided to do."
Ben-Artzi came to Israel, worked the land, wrote books and poetry, and became a teacher and a bible researcher, Netanyahu said. "(His and his wife's) lives carry a torch of memory and living testimony for the continuance of family, the close family whose members – but for Shmuel – were all killed," he added.
State officials at Yad Vashem (Photo: Amos Ben-Gershom, GPO)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said during his time at the podium that "the IDF stands guard over the Jewish people and it will make sure of never again".
"The defense forces are our eternal answer to the Holocaust, they are the revenge of the victims and the solace of the survivors – they are our greatest hope," Barak said.
Opposition chairwoman Tzipi Livni told her family's story as well. "Every person has a name and a life story. The stories of the lives of millions of Jews were cut off during the Holocaust. Some of the survivors came to Israel and built a life here. Their offspring continued to fight for its survival, sometimes at the cost of their lives," she said.
The ceremony began with the lighting of six candles by Holocaust survivors. Both of Israel's chief rabbis read out loud during the ceremony. Rabbi Shlomo Amar read from the Book of Psalms and Rabbi Yona Metzger read the Kadish prayer.
Netanyahu. Spoke of father-in-law (Photo: Ohad Zoigenberg)
Teens prepare for March of Living
In attendance at the ceremony at Yad Vashem Sunday were the president, prime minister, president of the Supreme Court, IDF chief, chief of police, Jerusalem's mayor, and the head of the Jewish Agency.
At the official Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony held Sunday night at Yad Vashem, Peres said, "We, members of the Jewish people, were victims of racism, persecution and discrimination but we never abandoned the obligation to honor every person, we were not blinded by darkness," he said. "Even in a dark world, we have aspired and continue to aspire to be a light unto the nations.
"We were alone, with no state of our own. The allied forces' bomber planes that flew over Auschwitz did not drop a single bomb on the mass murder facilities," he said.
Moment of silence at Rabin Square (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared between the Holocaust and current threats on Israel from Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah.
"We must not bury our heads in the sand and dismiss the threat with words of mockery," he said. "Has the world learned this lesson? I doubt it. Have we? I believe we have."
Addressing Israel's enemies, Netanyahu said: "The world should know that when the people of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces say never again - we mean every word."
The annual March of the Living will be held in Poland later Monday, with thousands of Jewish, non-Jewish, and Israeli teens marching from Auschwitz to Birkenau.
Another March of the Living will be held in Israel, for teens who could not attend the Poland event for economic or other reasons.
A report on Holocaust survivors published Sunday by the Holocaust Survivors' Welfare Fund says 60,000 of the 208,000 survivors currently residing in Israel are living in poverty.
Every day some 35 survivors die, and 13,000 died in 2010, the report adds. Estimates say that by 2013 the number of living survivors will be down 30%, leaving just 145,000 to tell their stories.
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