Holocaust Remembrance Day Marked in Israel

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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, attended by President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, MKs, Supreme Court justices, Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and other officials, along with representatives of survivors and fighters organizations and delegations from Israel and abroad.

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, under the auspices of Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein. The main memorial ceremony began at 1 P.M. at the Hall of Remembrance.

"Each and every child and every person must have a name. Not a number, not a figure, but an actual name of his given to him by his mother and father," said Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein in opening the parliamentary ceremony. Knesset members use the occasion to honor the memory of family members who had died.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dedicated his words to his father-in-law Shmuel Ben-Artzi, who passed away recently. Ben-Artzi wrote a book memorializing his community which was decimated in the Holocaust. The prime minister read aloud the names of Ben-Artzi's family who were murdered.

Peres read in a trembling voice the names of his grandfather, Rabbi Zvi Meltzer and other family members.

He dedicated his speech to the "memory of my family members who were exterminated together with 2,060 in the town of Vishnyeva in August 1942 by the Nazis and their local collaborators." Peres related how the Nazis locked the Jews in a synagogue built of wood and torched it while they were still alive.

"Half the Jews of Vishnyeva immigrated to Israel and the other half that didn't make it were burned alive," he said. "Our body was split in two. Our soul remains one. It pulses here, in Israel as an exalted memory and independent Jewish revival and that will be impossible to destroy again."

The central closing ceremony will take place at 7:45 P.M. at the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum on Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot. Speakers this year will include Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Gantz. Six memorial torches will be lit by Holocaust survivors and their families.

One of the torches will be lit by the daughter and granddaughter of Chavka Folman Raban, one of the legendary smugglers of the Warsaw Ghetto, who died earlier this year. Other torches will be 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 will be 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.

Israelis stand as the siren sounds on Holocaust Remembrance Day, April 28, 2014. Credit: Moti Milrod
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People participate in the annual 'March of the Living' walk in remembrance of the more than half million Hungarian Jews that died in the Holocaust during World War Two, in Budapest, April 27, 2014. Credit: Reuters
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President Shimon Peres lays the wreath at the Holocaust day ceremony on April 28, 2014. Credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO
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Israelis stand as the siren sounds on Holocaust Remembrance Day, April 28, 2014. Credit: Moti Milrod

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