The International March of the Living, which brings individuals around the world to Poland to study the history of the Holocaust, and which views the State of Israel as the spiritual and national homeland of the Jewish people, will hold a ‘Salute to Israel’s 73rd Birthday’ online celebration on Thursday, April 15, at 8:00 PM Israel time/1:00 PM EDT. The program will feature panoramic views of Israel’s natural beauty and a special performance by Israel Army Choir and Chief Cantor Shai Abramson. Participants from 25 countries and dozens of communities will participate in the program.The broadcast, sponsored by Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, will focus on Holocaust survivors who helped establish the State of Israel through their dedication and accomplishments, The following are brief profiles of some of these unique individuals. Yitzhak Arad – The Fighter
“When I was in the ghetto, and when I was fighting with the partisans, I had just one dream – to reach the land of Israel when the war would end,” says Yitzhak Arad. Now 94, Arad epitomizes a generation of Holocaust survivors who made their way to the land of Israel, helped build the state, and in the process, built themselves. On December 14, 1945, Arad, together with 251 other immigrants, departed from Genoa, Italy, on the “Hannah Senesh.” The small ship landed on the beaches of Nahariya on December 25. Arad joined the Palmach, the elite fighting force of the Haganah in pre-state Israel, and became a member of the Harel Brigade, which fought in Jerusalem during Israel’s War of Independence. At war’s end, Arad remained in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), becoming battalion commander, and eventually became chief educational officer in the IDF, rising to the rank of brigadier general. After completing his army service, Arad was appointed chairman of the directorate of Yad Vashem and served with distinction in that position for 21 years. A scholar of the Holocaust, he has written numerous academic articles and books on the subject.Arad has three children, eleven grandchildren, and thirteen great-grandchildren, all of whom live in Israel. “I, who witnessed the Holocaust, and saw how we were helpless – the most important thing was to establish a Jewish state that would be independent,” he says, and adds, “We are one people with one history and should strive for one future.”Henry Herscovici – The Sportsman
Henry Herscovici is one of Israel’s best-known Olympic sportsmen. Born in Romania, Herscovici survived the horrors of the Holocaust and moved to Israel in 1965. He became a champion sport shooter and participated in the 1966, 1967, and 1970 Asian Games. In 1967, he won a gold medal in the 1967 Asian Championships and earned a silver medal in 1970. He competed in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico and the 1972 Summer Olympics held in Munich. Herscovici carried the Israeli flag at the opening ceremonies of the 1972 Olympics and was one of the few Israeli athletes to escape from the Black September terrorist attack at the Olympic Village, jumping off a balcony to safety.Avraham Carmi – The Educator
“Each year, before the Passover Seder,” says Avraham Carmi, “I take the uniform that I wore in the concentration camp, and place it on a chair near the table, to symbolize those who did not survive, and could not celebrate the Seder.” Born in 1928 in Leżajsk, Poland, Carmi and his mother hid from the Germans in the Warsaw cemetery. He survived several concentration camps, and on September 9, 1945, arrived in Haifa on the Mataroa, the first ship that brought Holocaust survivors to British Mandatory Palestine after World War II. Carmi fought to defend the Etzion Bloc during Israel’s War of Independence and was taken prisoner by the Jordanians. After his release, he worked in the Mikveh Israel Agricultural School and became an inspector in the Education Ministry. “I was a counselor, an educator, and a teacher. I educated children, and it was good. I always tried to be a guiding model for them,” says Carmi. Avraham and his wife Rivka, a survivor of Bergen-Belsen, have three children, nine grandchildren, and twenty-four great-grandchildren. With a twinkle in his eye, Carmi says, “When my life is over, and I am brought before the Heavenly court, I will say to God, ‘You know what I did for you? I compensated you for the children whom you lost in the war. God lost children, and we returned children.”Zev Harel – The Young Harel Volunteer
“I enjoyed being able to serve and having a good feeling about the things I have done to contribute to the establishment of the State of Israel,” says Zev Harel, a retired professor of sociology, who lives in the United States. Harel survived the Holocaust and arrived in Israel, desperate to volunteer in the Palmach. “You had to be 18 to volunteer and serve in the military. When I was 17, I declared that I was one year older. Since I was in good shape, I was accepted.” Harel served in the Harel Brigade, which played a critical role in the area of Jerusalem during the War of Independence in 1948. At a Harel Brigade reunion held after the war, many brigade members decided to change their names to Harel to honor their military service. “My last name had been Hershkowitz, but I wanted to be more Israeli.” And so, Zvi Hershkowitz became Zvi Harel.Click here on Wednesday at 8:00 PM Israel time/1:00 PM EDT to watch the International March of the Living’s ‘Salute to Israel’s 73rd Birthday’ online celebration.