The central closing ceremony for Holocaust Remembrance Day took place on Monday evening at the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum on Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot.
Speakers this year included Finance Minister Yair Lapid and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz. Six memorial torches were lit by Holocaust survivors and their families.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid recounted in his speech how his father and grandmother survived in Budapest in 1945, when they hid from the German and Hungarian fascist forces and narrowly escaped being sent to their death.
Speaking at another ceremony at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon called on the world community to fight anti-Semitism. "We will continue to reach out for peace, even with our worst enemies, but at the same time we will not hesitate and act with resolve to cut off their hand if they stay their course," he said. Israel, Ya'alon added, is a shield that will ensure that "never again will Jewish children stare with a terrified look across fences of concentration camps."
At the central closing, six memorial torches were lit by Holocaust survivors and their families. One of them was the daughter and granddaughter of Chavka Folman Raban, one of the legendary smugglers of the Warsaw Ghetto, who died earlier this year. Other torches were lit by partisan Litman Mor; survivors Hava and Yosef Lustig, among the founders of the Memorial Museum of Hungarian Speaking Jewry in Safed; Yitzhak Livnat, a survivor of Birkenau; Yosef Ben Porat, a survivor of the Glass House of Budapest, a noted educator and founder of Kibbutz Gaaton; and Prof. Yanina Altman, a survivor of the Yanovska concentration camp, an author, chemist and social activist.
The wreath of the Righteous Among the Nations was laid by representatives of the Swiss Embassy in Israel, in memory of diplomat Carl Lutz, the Swiss vice-consul in Budapest and other foreign diplomats who enlisted in the efforts led by local youth movements to save Hungarian Jews.
The ceremonies marking Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day began Monday at 10 A.M. with a siren that sounded for two minutes, during which Israelis all over the country stood in silence.
Immediately afterward, a wreath-laying ceremony began at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial at Warsaw Ghetto Square.
At 10:30 A.M. the “Every Person Has a Name” ceremony began at Yad Vashem, during which the names of Holocaust victims will be read by members of the general public at the Hall of Remembrance. Starting at 11 A.M., names of Holocaust victims were read at the Knesset. The main memorial ceremony began at 1 P.M. at the Hall of Remembrance.
At the state ceremony on Sunday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu equated the world's silence before the Holocaust the West's passiveness today vis-à-vis the Iranian nuclear program.
Speaking before the prime minister, President Shimon Peres said that the State of Israel is the best deterrence against another Holocaust, and that a strong Israel is "our answer to the terror of anti-Semitism."
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