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April 30, 2008: Yom HaShoah

April 30, 2008

Holocaust Day, or, as it is more properly known in Israel, Day of Remembrance of Martyrs and Heroes — the feeling being that those who were brave and did fight back should not be forgotten.

This is one of those times when I feel that my ‘regular’ posting material can be put aside.

Observance began at sundown , and, as I do every year, I watched the televised ceremonies at the Holocaust Memorial, Yad Va’Shem. And, as I do every year, I wept.

The core of the ceremony is the lighting of six flames, by six survivors, to represent the six million. Each of those who lights has been filmed telling his or her story, and that film runs before the flame is lit. One story is more painful than the next.


But today was, somehow, different . For each of the magnificent people who told his/her story has made a significant contribution to the State. One, for example, was recruited by the Mosad, and sent into Germany, where he broke into an office and photographed the documents that convicted Eichmann. And one helped found a yishuv, a settlement, in the north in the early years of the State. His face lit with pride as he spoke of his contribution.

And — oh! — the lessons to be learned from this. Lessons of bravery and hope and meaning in life.

And, of course, I thought once again that this all hasn’t happened to come to naught, and that whatever the horrors of what we are dealing with, we must come through at the end.

There is an honor guard on the stage for the ceremonies, and I watched them with their military precision and prayed for all of our army to be strong, strong.


Tomorrow at 10 AM a siren sounds and everyone stands still wherever he or she is in memory of the six million. People stop their cars and get out to stand. It’s a moving and uniting experience.

Except, of course, that Arabs don’t stand still . And that’s a story for another day.




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