Holocaust Remembrance Day: Israel to commemorate victims of Nazi genocide

Yad Vashem has designated the theme of this year’s events to be the commemoration of the onset of the mass murder of European Jewry by the Nazi regime after its invasion of the Soviet Union.

Educating the next generation about  the Holocaust in the Former Soviet Union (photo credit: YAD VASHEM)
Educating the next generation about the Holocaust in the Former Soviet Union
(photo credit: YAD VASHEM)
Israel will once again commemorate the greatest calamity to befall the Jewish people in 2,000 years on Wednesday night and Thursday as the country marks Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The official state opening ceremony for Holocaust Remembrance Day will take place at 8:00 p.m. in Yad Vashem’s Warsaw Ghetto Square on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem, and will be attended by President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, chief rabbis Yitzhak Yosef and David Lau and other dignitaries.
This year’s theme has been entitled “Until the Very Last Jew: Eighty Years Since the Onset of Mass Annihilation,” by Yad Vashem, marking the eightieth anniversary of Operation Barbarossa in which Nazi Germany staged a surprise attack against the Soviet Union in 1941 and occupied vast swathes of land in eastern Europe where millions of Jews lived.
It was following this invasion that the mass shootings committed by the Einsatzgruppen, other German soldiers and police forces, along with local collaborators began across Eastern Europe. This continued into 1943, and some 1.5 million Jews were murdered.
Jews were also murdered in similar operations in German-occupied Yugoslavian territory and by the Antonescu regime on Romanian-occupied land.
A new online exhibition by Yad Vashem commemorating this stage of the Holocaust entitled The Onset of Mass Murder – The Fate of Jewish Families in 1941 highlights the stories of 12 Jewish families who were caught up in the Nazi invasion of Eastern Europe.
During the state opening ceremony at Yad Vashem, six Holocaust survivors will each light a torch in memory of the more than six million victims of the Nazi genocide.
The first torch will be lit by Shmuel Naar, the second by Zehava Gealel, the third by Yossi Chen, the fourth by Halina Friedman, the fifth by Sara Fishman and the sixth torch by Manya Bigunov.
As in years past, short videos about each of the torch lighters will be shown, and will be available on the Yad Vashem website in the section dedicated to Holocaust Remembrance Day 2021.
Yad Vashem has also embarked on an initiative with the Tzohar rabbinical association called “Generations Light the Way” in which families will light six memorial candles in their homes in memory of the six million victims of the Holocaust.
The webpage for the initiative at yadvashem.org, called “generations light the way,” provides the text of the traditional Jewish mourner’s prayer “El Maleh Rahamim” (God who is full of compassion) and the poem “Nizkor – Let us Remember” by Holocaust survivor Abba Kovner, for those who light candles to recite.
Events at Yad Vashem will continue throughout Thursday, including the two-minute siren at 10 a.m. and a wreath-laying ceremony with the participation of the president, prime minister and representatives of survivor and fighter organizations and delegations, as well as the main memorial ceremony at 1 p.m.