Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara met on Thursday with the Holocaust survivors that will light torches in the opening ceremony for Holocaust Martyrs ‘and Heroes’ Remembrance Day on Sunday night.
The six Holocaust survivors were received by the Netanyahus at the prime minister’s office. They were accompanied by family members, including children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Avner Shalev, the chairman of Yad Vashem, was also present. The Holocaust memorial that he leads will be the site of the state ceremony on Sunday night.
The torch lighters told their stories of heroism and survival during the war until their arrival in Israel, how they survived the camps and the hardships of the war, and how they immigrated to Israel and built their homes there.
“I want you to understand the magnitude of the miracle that you initiated and that we achieved together,” Netanyahu told them. “Around this table at which we are sitting today, nearly a day doesn’t pass without influential people, presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers and other leaders coming here to learn from the State of Israel.”
He continued, “They see the State of Israel as a powerful country with capabilities in finance, in technology, in the army, in intelligence. There is great admiration for the State of Israel.”
Netanyahu said that his guests ask, “‘Where did this come from? How did you do this? You were dust, ash.’ So I look at you and ask, ‘How did you do this?’ because what we did afterward is nothing compared to your great deed, and this is the great story of (Israel’s) rebirth.
“There is no real explanation for this miracle. The explanation for this miracle is the faith, the courage, the strength of perseverance and the life that beats in each and every one of you. It is the life force of our people, and it is miraculous. You gave so much, and the state has to give to you. You really moved me, really, really moved me, each and every one. (Your) stories are tremendous. Thank you very much”.
The six torchlighters are:
First Torch: Moshe Ha-Elion
Second Torch: Moshe Jakubowitz
Third Torch: Jeannine Sebbane-Bouhanna
Fourth Torch: Moshe Porat
Fifth Torch: Max Privler
Sixth Torch: Elka Abramovitz
(Translated and edited by J. Herzog)