Nation slows down to commemorate Shoah victims

President recites names in Knesset of family members killed in his home town of Vishneva, Poland.

April 13, 2010 03:38
2 minute read.
Peres and Netanyahu at Yad Vashem.

Peres and Netanyahu Holocaust Remembrance Day 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)


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Sirens wailed throughout the country Monday morning as the nation marked Holocaust Remembrance Day.

President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi attended the official state ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem, where wreaths were laid in memory of the victims.

At the Knesset Monday morning, Peres, Netanyahu, opposition leader Tzipi Livni, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, ministers and MKs took turns naming Holocaust victims in the annual “Everyone Has a Name” ceremony.

Peres recalled his grandfather, Rabbi Zvi Meltzer, whose synagogue in Poland was set on fire by the Nazis while he was praying draped in his tallit.

The president recited the names of his family members killed “with 2,060 of their community members in the town of Vishneva in August 1942,” saying the “Nazis and their accomplices assembled the town’s residents in the synagogue that was made of wood and cruelly shot and burned them to death.”

Netanyahu spoke about many relatives of his wife and then said with pride that some of the victims had a growing list of descendents.

Rivlin, whose family came to Jerusalem from Lithuania 100 years ago, well before the Holocaust, spoke about children who were murdered after being caught hiding in France. His wife Nehama, in a rare public appearance, memorialized her family.

Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, filling in for Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, said that despite the name of the ceremony, he had an aunt who’d had a child during the war whose name and gender were not known.

Livni mentioned a list of educators who had continued teaching during the war in ghettos and been murdered together with their pupils. Vice Premier Silvan Shalom and Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon spoke about victims in North Africa.

Before the speeches, six people lit candles in memory of the six million victims. The lighters included survivors who were joined in the ceremony by grandchildren currently serving in the IDF.

On Sunday evening, US President Barack Obama marked Holocaust Remembrance Day with a statement honoring the memory of “those who endured the horrors” of the Nazi atrocities of World War II.

Obama said the Holocaust called on all people to renew their commitment to prevent genocide and “to confront anti-Semitism and prejudice in all its forms.”

AP contributed to this report.

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