Yom HaShoah 2023: How Israel remembered the Holocaust

Israel marked Holocaust Remembrance Day with a ceremony at Yad Vashem honouring the 6 million Jews killed by Nazis


Visitors seen at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem on April 16, 2023, ahead of Israeli Holocaust Remembrance Day. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** יד ושם מוזיאון שואה השואה יום השואה זיכרון מבקרים ירושלים

The official opening ceremony for this year's Yom HaShoah took place at Yad Vashem’s Warsaw Ghetto Square on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem. President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered remarks whilst Shoshana Weis spoke on behalf of survivors, and fellow survivor Efraim Mol recited the El Maleh Rahamim prayer for the souls of the martyrs.

Israeli soldiers stand dutifully on stage during the ceremony at Yad Vashem, which made “Jewish Resistance during the Holocaust” the theme of this year’s Yom HaShoah, Israel’s annual Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day.

Holocaust survivors lit six torches in commemoration of the 6 million Jewish victims of the Nazi killing machine. The six survivors who lit the torches were Tova Gutstein, Ben-Zion Raisch, Judith Sohlberg, Robert Bonfil, Efim Gimelshtein and Malka Rendel.

Israel came to a standstill for two minutes on Tuesday morning, as the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day siren wailed to commemorate the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis.

Immediately after the siren, the official state ceremony commenced at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, where President Isaac Herzog, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut and several Holocaust survivors laid wreaths at the monument commemorating the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

“We don’t remember numbers, we remember lives and people,” Herzog said.

“The fact that the name of every Jew is still being said out loud in Jerusalem, eighty years later, in the legislature of our Jewish and democratic state — that is the great victory,” he said.

An Israeli soldier lights candles at the hall of remembrance. The annual “Unto Every Person There is a Name” ceremony was subsequently held at the Knesset, with participants reading out names of those who perished in the Holocaust.

Citizens of the Jewish state marked Yom HaShoah, one of the most solemn days on Israel’s national calendar, on the 27th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan — the day on which the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began.

According to figures published Sunday by the Holocaust Survivors’ Rights Authority, there are currently 147,199 Holocaust survivors living in Israel.

Hundreds of smaller ceremonies took place throughout the day at municipality buildings, schools and Holocaust memorial monuments across the country.

Israel ground to a halt as sirens wailed to commemorate the victims. People stood in homes, on balconies and on the roads as they remembered those murdered. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the “unique victory of the Jewish people” in the aftermath of the Holocaust, reflected on the forming of families by survivors, their coming to Israel, and never forgetting Jerusalem as a national symbol. He said, though, this victory cannot overshadow the tragedies that the Jewish people — and others — endured during the Holocaust.

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