“Every man has a name,” the Knesset proclaimed Monday at its annual Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony, in which officials read names of those who perished.
Many of the ministers, MKs and others read names of family members killed by the Nazis.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein opened the ceremony, named after the poem by Zelda, “Every Man Has a Name,” by saying “every man must have a name, not a number, a real name, that his parents gave him.”
President Shimon Peres told of his family in the town of Vishniyeva, which was then in Poland and now in Belarus. They were killed together with the 2,060 residents of their town. They were gathered in a wood synagogue, which was then burned down by the Nazis.
“Half of the Jews of Vishniyeva made aliya to Israel. The other half were burned alive,” Peres said. “Our body was split in half. Our souls remain one. They live here, in Israel, in an independent Jewish state that cannot be destroyed.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu read names of his father-in-law Shmuel Ben-Artzi’s family members, as well as a poem Ben-Artzi wrote mourning the loss.
Former Knesset speaker Shevach Weiss, a Holocaust survivor, spoke out against the way survivors are depicted in the media.
“We’re not pitiful, even though some try to show us this way. We came here. We built families, a state,” he said. “I want the government to remember that.”
At the beginning of the ceremony, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau read from psalms and IDF Chief Cantor Shai Abramson chanted the “El Maleh Rachamim” prayer.
Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett, whose ministry cosponsored the event along with Yad Vashem, said the mourner’s kaddish.
Six candles were lit in memory of the six million who were killed. Two were be lit by Kathleen Schwartz and Yitzhak Livnat, Holocaust survivors who participated in the Knesset delegation to Auschwitz earlier this year.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich, whose parents were survivors, lit another candle. Dina Lavie, mother-in-law of MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) lit the third, followed by Esther Cohen, Bayit Yehudi MK Orit Struck’s mother, and Naomi Katz, mother-in-law of MK Dov Henin (Hadash). All three are Holocaust survivors.