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Photo by: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO
Israel to recall victims on remembrance day
By GIL SHEFLER
04/18/2012
Delegation of Roma to attend official state ceremony at Yad Vashem today at sundown.
 
Israel will remember the victims of Nazi persecution on Holocaust Remembrance Day in memorials and events across the country that start Wednesday at sundown.

The main ceremony, broadcast live at 8 p.m on all major television and radio outlets, will be held at Yad Vashem. President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and former chief rabbi and Holocaust survivor Yisrael Meir Lau will be in attendance.

This year a delegation of Roma – also known as gypsies, though the term is widely considered a pejorative – from Germany will attend the state ceremony in Jerusalem. Hundreds of thousands of Roma were murdered by the Nazis and their allies alongside Jews during World War II.

“Roma and Sinti of Europe do have a special relation to Israel,” said Romani Rose of the German Council of Roma and Sinti. “Without Israel, we would be faced with a much stronger anti-Semitism in Europe; the Central Council observes with great concern the current development. We would wish that Israel closely monitors the racism against Sinti and Roma in Europe.

The current debate in Germany shows the necessity of a constant dispute of open and latent anti-Semitism and Racism.”

Dozens of ceremonies across the country will start at 10 a.m. the following morning with a two-minute siren.

B’nai B’rith will hold a joint memorial event with the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund honoring Jews who saved their coreligionists during the war. Officials of Jewish organizations, Holocaust survivors, some 200 Border Patrol cadets and 200 high school students will take part in the service held at the Martyr’s Forest “Scroll of Fire” plaza in Jerusalem.

“The phenomena of Jewish rescue and the instructive stories of thousands of Jews who labored to save their endangered brethren throughout Europe are yet to receive appropriate public recognition and resonance,” B’nai B’rith said in a press release.

“Many who could have tried to flee preferred to stay and rescue others; some paid for it with their lives.”

This year, Recha Freier and Josef Itai, who encouraged German Jews to immigrate to Palestine before the war broke out, will receive special mention at the ceremony.

Every year Israel marks Holocaust Remembrance Day in mid-April, depending on the Jewish calendar, a period chosen because of its proximity to the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Its decision to couple its memorial day with the uprising, an act of Jewish resistance, stands in contrast to the United Nations decision to designate January 27, the day the Red Army liberated the Nazi death camp Auschwitz, as International Holocaust Day.

Yad Vashem officials on Tuesday invited the public to continue to donate Holocaust- related documents, artifacts, photographs and art to its ongoing “Gathering the Fragments” campaign.
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