Yom Hazikaron laShoah ve-laG’vurah. or to those of us that do not speak or read Hebrew…Yom HaShoah. In 1953, this day was designated as the Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel.
I was lucky enough to be in Israel for one of them several years ago.
It began with the lowering of the national flag at Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem). We were standing in the Warsaw Ghetto Square in the museum when a shofar was blown. (A shofar is a ram’s horn). The sound was mournful and haunting.
Two people began lowering the flags while the shofar sounded and chills went up my spine.
Once lowered, the prime minister began speaking. Then the President spoke.
People around me openly sobbed and held each other in comfort.
A tiny woman in a wheelchair was brought to the front and she spoke in a wavering voice. She pulled her sleeve up and showed us all the faded numbers tattooed there. She had a tiny brown-paper wrapped package in her lap, and from it she pulled out one tiny baby shoe. It was at that point that I started crying. I don’t know whose shoe it was. Was it her own? Was it her child’s? A brother or sister? it didn’t matter as the pain was universal at that point.
After she spoke, she was handed a long lighter with which she fired six torches. The torches represented the SIX MILLION people killed. I can not begin to imagine that many people killed.
A movie was shown. It was a film taken by the American Army upon the release of survivors in a camp. Not a sound was heard except the sound of the film going through the projector.
At the end of the ceremony people simply started wandering through the museum complex. I never heard a word spoken…only the sound of movement. I was incapable of speech.
It has been years and I still cry. I still have difficulty speaking. I will never forget.