By Yori Yalon, Noam Dvir, and Gideon Allon, Israel Hayom—
As the sun begins to set this evening, ushering in Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, the atmosphere will change. Slowly, the quotidian routine will give way to reflection as businesses and leisure venues close to allow the nation to honor the memory of the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust.
The official events will start at 8 p.m. with the main ceremony at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, at which President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are scheduled to speak. Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev will light the memorial flame, and Holocaust survivor Esther Meron will speak in the name of all the survivors.
During the ceremony, six other survivors will light six torches, each one representing 1 million victims: Moshe Ha-Elion, Moshe Jakubowitz, Jeannine Sebbane-Bouhanna, Moshe Porat, Max Privler, and Elka Reines-Abramovitz.
Events on Monday will open with a two-minute siren, during which the country will stand in silence. Between 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., “Behind the Scenes at Yad Vashem” will offer visitors an up-close look at the work of the institution. Visitors will have a chance to meet with experts, who will seek out art work and documents not generally on display for the general public.
The Knesset building will also host a Holocaust memorial ceremony titled “Unto Every Person There is a Name.” At the ceremony, scheduled to take place at the Chagall State Hall at 11 a.m., Rivlin, Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Supreme Court Deputy Chief Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, Chief Rabbis Yitzhak Yosef and David Lau, and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat will read out names of Jews who perished.
The Knesset ceremony will include the lighting of six memorial candles by six individuals who lost their families in the Holocaust: Yaakov Nahmias, born in Thessaloniki, Greece, and his niece, MK Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin (Zionist Union); Eti Ben-Ari, born in Triopli, and her daughter MK Merav Ben-Ari (Kulanu); former minister Yair Tsaban; Chaya Edelman of the Netherlands, who was smuggled to a gentile family by resistance fighters and whose mother perished; Brett Badihi, born in France, who was sent to a Christian family and who founded Alumim, an organization that helps French Jewish children who were hidden during the Holocaust find information about their birth families. Her grandson, Lt. Gil Badihi, was killed in Ramallah in 2002. The last memorial candle will be lighted by Eliyahu Feinsilberg, founder of the Amcha association, which provides support to Holocaust survivors and their children. Feinsilberg survived nine different concentration camps, a death march, and this year is celebrating his 100th birthday.
Israelis and Jews from all over the world are also commemorating the Holocaust where it actually took place. Thousands will take place in the annual March of the Living from the Birkenau concentration camp to Auschwitz. This year, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, and a group of 75 Holocaust survivors will be part of the Israeli delegation.
One of the marchers is Uri Basha, a disabled IDF veteran who lost his sight in the First Lebanon War in 1986. Basha is part of a special group taking part in the march, representing the Israeli Guide Dog Center for the Blind. Basha, a 55-year-old father of four, will march with Triton, a trained guide dog of the German shepherd breed, the breed the Nazis used to guard the death camps.
“He’s a warm, loving dog, who goes up to everyone, wanting to be petted,” says Basha, a social worker.
“And there’s always this awful thought — how they would sic dogs like these on people who had nothing. How could a dog like this be a weapon, when he gives everything from eyes to warmth, closeness and friendship?” Basha asks.