Thursday, April 19, 2012

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2012 at Yad Vashem


Israel's President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, dignitaries, and thousands of Holocaust survivors and their families gathered in Yad Vashem's Warsaw Ghetto Square for the official ceremony for Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day.  A full broadcast of the ceremony can be seen online, including the torchlighters and short videos telling their emotional stories of loss and survival.  Today the President, Prime Minister, government officials and representatives of survivor and fighter organizations laid wreaths in a special ceremony in Warsaw Ghetto Square.
 Getting Ready for the Official Ceremony on the eve
of Holocaust Remembrance Day

The theme for Holocaust Remembrance Day 2012, My Brother's Keeper: Jewish Solidarity during the Holocaust, pays testament to the mutual help and commitment that Jews offered each other during the Shoah - often in varied and surprising ways.  Members of larger communities took in refugees from smaller ones, youth movement members opened communal kitchens and fed the hungry, peopled collected and distributed food, clothing and religious articles in the ghettos; families adopted the orphaned.  These acts offered a chance at survival, physical strength as well as at times courage to endure another day. In keeping with the theme, Yad Vashem's International School for Holocaust Studies is today hosting 2,500 youth who are taking part in the "Open Community Center."  They are participating in a variety of educational activities including workshops and guided tours, as well as attending short plays and specially choreographed dance programs relating to the day's theme.

Commemorative ceremonies are taking place on the Mount Remembrance throughout  the day - including the recitation of Holocaust victims' names by members by their families and members of the public in the Hall of Remembrance.  Later in the afternoon, youth from the various Zionistic youth groups will gather together for a special ceremony in the Valley of the Communities.

Throughout the day, a special collection point is being manned at Yad Vashem for the "Gathering the Fragments" Campaign. Since the inception of this 11th hour rescue campaign  only one year ago, some 51,000  personal items have been gathered from more than 3,000 individuals.  These letters, documents, diaries, artwork and mementos from the Holocaust-era  are brought to Yad Vashem where they are preserved for posterity and become an essential part of the preserving the memories and stories that lie behind these items future generations.