Israel prepares to mark Holocaust Day

The central theme of tonight's ceremony is the some 1.5 million Jewish children killed by the Nazis.

Nazi shoots Jewish woman 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Nazi shoots Jewish woman 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
The State of Israel will pause Monday night in memory of the six million Jews who perished from 1933-1945, as the country marks the start of Holocaust Remembrance Day. The annual state ceremony which ushers in the start of the 24-hour commemoration will begin after sunset at 8 p.m. at Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. The solemn hour-and-a-quarter opening event, which will be broadcast live on television channels and radio stations, will be attended by President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the chairman of the Yad Vashem Council and Holocaust survivor Tel Aviv Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, as well as scores of dignitaries and ambassadors from around the world. The central theme of this year's ceremony is Children in the Holocaust. Some 1.5 million Jewish children were killed by the Nazis. During the ceremony, which will include a mix of speeches and somber musical interludes, six torches will be lit by survivors in memory of the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. The chief rabbis of Israel will recite a selection from Psalms as well as the kaddish mourning prayer. A 16-year-old will play a violin that belonged to a 12-year-old partisan, Mordechai (Motele) Schlein, killed in the Holocaust and whose violin is on display at the Holocaust Museum. All places of entertainment will be closed on Monday night. A two-minute siren will sound on Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the start of a series of daylong ceremonies throughout the nation. The official state wreath-laying ceremony will take place just after the siren is sounded at the Warsaw Ghetto uprising memorial at Yad Vashem in the presence of the prime minister and other VIPs. The "Unto Every Person There is a Name" ceremony will follow - in which Holocaust victims' names are read out - at both the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem and the Knesset. Approximately 250,000 Holocaust survivors are living in the country. About one-third of them live in poverty, recent Israeli welfare reports have found, prompting a recent landmark government accord to increase their state stipends. In keeping with the theme of this year's commemoration, a new exhibition and material about children killed in the Holocaust is accessible on Yad Vashem's Web site More than 8 million people have visited the site in the past year. In addition, over 1.3 million people have visited Yad Vashem's four YouTube channels, launched over the previous year, including more than 1 million who entered the English channel, 140,000 the Arabic channel, 72,000 the Hebrew channel and 30,000 the Spanish channel. Separately, a prominent demographer has estimated that if not for the Holocaust there would be as many as 32 million Jews in the world today, instead of the current 13 million. The figures appear in a forthcoming article by Hebrew University demographer Professor Sergio Della Pergola which will be published in an educational Hebrew periodical put out by Yad Vashem. Before the outbreak of World War II, there were an estimated 16.5 million Jews in the world.