Netanyahu lays wreath during Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremony at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: AMOS BEN GERSHOM, GPO)
“In an instant, I realized that I had no one but my sister,” recalled Sara Kain, a former Auschwitz inmate, when she learned that her parents had been murdered in the camp’s gas chambers.
Kain, along with five other survivors, will light the torches at the opening ceremony of Holocaust Remembrance Day at Yad Vashem this week, it was announced on Monday. The others being honored are Robert Tomashof, Jehoshua Hesel Fried, Joseph Labi, Chaim Grosbein and Lonia Rozenhoch.
The six torches commemorate the six million Jews murdered by the Nazi regime during the Holocaust.
According to Yad Vashem, the theme for this year’s ceremony is “Everything is Forbidden to Us, and Yet We Do Everything: The Struggle to Maintain the Human Spirit during the Holocaust.”
President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will deliver remarks, while Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, chairman of the Yad Vashem Council, a former chief rabbi and a survivor himself, will kindle the Memorial Torch.
The current chief rabbis, David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef, will also participate, as will Cantor Israel Parnes and singer Kobi Aflalo.
Kain (née Izikowich), who will light the first torch, was born in 1919 in Kassa (Košice), Czechoslovakia, to a religiously traditional family of eight. Her parents owned a pâtisserie, where she and her siblings worked.
Two older siblings, Rachel and Meir, emigrated to Mandatory Palestine before the war.
In 1938, the region where Sara lived was annexed to Hungary, and in April 1944, a month after the Germans occupied the country, the Jews of Kassa and the neighboring towns were concentrated in a ghetto. Sara, her sister Ethel and her parents were deported to Auschwitz in early June 1944.
Her mother and father were taken straight to the gas chambers. At one time, Ethel was selected to be murdered, although Sara and others managed to save her from this fate.
The sisters were eventually transferred to Bergen Belsen and other camps, but survived them as well as a death march before being liberated by US troops. Sara weighed just 38 kg.
They made their way to Palestine in 1946 . They were detained by the British in the Atlit detention camp, but eventually settled at Kibbutz Gan Shmuel.
Sara married Abraham, now deceased, whom she had met as a girl in Kassa. She has three children, 10 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.