'Answer to Nazis is to call victims by name'

Knesset holds "Every Person Has a Name" ceremony, in which politicians list those slain by Nazis.

Knesset Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremony370 (photo credit: Screenshot)
Knesset Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremony370
(photo credit: Screenshot)
The Knesset marked Holocaust Remembrance Day on Monday with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and others reading names of those who perished.
The ceremony, titled “Every Person Has a Name,” after the poem by Zelda, is an annual Knesset tradition, since it was initiated in 1989 by former Knesset speaker Dov Shilansky, a Holocaust survivor.
“Our sages said that ‘a man has three names. One that his father and mother call him, one that people call him, and one – best of all – that he earns for himself,’” Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said at the beginning of the ceremony.
“Every man has a name.
Every man has a right to his own name, to be called by his name, to be remembered by his name,” he continued.
“Facing the animalistic attempt by the Nazis to cut off humanity, to turn people into numbers and transport them on an assembly line of mass destruction, the Jewish call is a call for humanity, is a call by name.”
The Knesset speaker read names of children who were killed in the Shargorod Ghetto in the Ukraine, where his mother and grandparents survived the Holocaust.
Peres retold the story of his family members who were brutally slain by the Nazis in the town of Wiszniew, Poland (now Belarus) in 1942.
“I will never forget what was done to them. They were sent to a wooden synagogue and murdered with gunshots and fire,” the president said.
Among the names Peres listed was his grandfather, Rabbi Zvi Meltzer.
“My grandfather, my teacher and rabbi said good-bye at the train station, when I went to the Land of Israel [in 1934] and said three words to me: Be a Jew,” Peres added.
Netanyahu told the story of his father-in-law Shlomo Ben- Artzi, who died last year, and left behind a large family in Europe after going to Israel to study in a yeshiva in Bnei Brak.
The prime minister read both a poem that Ben-Artzi wrote during the Holocaust and the names of his family members who died during the Holocaust. Ben-Artzi chose to include their names on his tombstone as well as his own.
Several other current and former politicians took part in the ceremony.
Shevah Weiss, a survivor and speaker of the 13th Knesset, recalled with a trembling voice his grandfather being murdered before his own eyes, and a friend from his kindergarten class, Bella, who was killed at age five.
Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett read slain family members’ names, saying he has a cloth hanging in his office that was embroidered by a relative who was murdered by the Nazis at age 12.
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon read names of Betar Zionist youth group and Irgun underground fighters involved in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
Shas MKs Avraham Michaeli and Amnon Cohen read names of relatives from Georgia and Uzbekistan, respectively, who perished fighting in the Red Army against the Nazis.
Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich paid tribute to her former father-in-law and the grandfather of her children, Shimon Ziv, who escaped the Warsaw Ghetto, came to Israel and fought in the Palmah.
At the ceremony’s opening, Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar read from Psalms and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger said the mourner’s kaddish. Chief IDF cantor Shai Abramson and the IDF Rabbinical Chorus sang the prayer “God Full of Mercy” at the beginning of the ceremony, and closed it with “Hatikva.”