Yom Hashoah

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, April 8, 2013

The 27th of Nisan is Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel and the day is also observed in Jewish communities worldwide. The choice of this day was not an obvious one. In 1949, the Israeli Chief Rabbinate announced that the existing fast of the 10th of Tevet would also the day for remembering the Shoah.

The Israeli government preferred the 14th of Nisan, the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, focusing on Jewish heroism rather than victimhood. However, this is the eve of Pesach, an inconvenient time for national ceremonies. As a compromise, the government opted in 1953 for the 27th of Nisan.

Many religious Jews were not pleased because Nisan is a joyful month when mourning rites are limited. They continued to remember the Shoah on the 10th of Tevet or on the fast of Tishah b’Av, when earlier tragedies are commemorated. These debates about timing reflect huge, unresolved questions about whether the Shoah should be understood as part of the continuum of Jewish suffering or as an entirely unique event. 

Last updated: 11:21am, April 8 2013