Yom HaShoah - Day of Remembrance for Victims of the Holocaust
Yom HaShoah is the day when most Jews commemorate the many lives lost in the Holocaust, the attempt at genocide by the Nazis against the Jewish people. In 1933, Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany on a specifically anti-Semitic program and a popular policy of "racial purification" in order to "cleanse" Germany of Jews. At this time, there were approximately nine million Jews living in the 21 countries of Europe that would be occupied by Germany during the war. Jews were systematically stripped of all rights and forced into political, social and physical ghettoes. In 1941, the Nazi leadership began to murder the Jews in specially created death camps, according to their "Final Solution". By the end of the war in 1945. Six million Jews, including 1.5 million children had been murdered.
Yom HaShoah is observed on the 27th of the Jewish calendar month of Nisan. This date was picked by world Jewry as on this day, in 1944, the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto rose in revolt against the Nazis.
The day is marked by special ceremonies including candle lighting for Holocaust victims, personal accounts by survivors, speeches and prayers. Over and over, it is stressed the importance of never forgetting this terrible period and the atrocities committed against the Jews.
All over the world, museums and monuments have been established to perpetuate the memory of all Holocaust victims. The most famous Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, is in Jerusalem and is visited by thousands of visitors from Israel and the Diaspora, both Jewish and Gentile, each year. Its archive collection is the largest and most comprehensive repository of material on the Holocaust and comprises of over 55 million pages of documents, 100,000 photographs, and thousands of films and videotaped testimonies of survivors, which can all be accessed by the public.
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington is also well known for its extensive collections of Holocaust art and memorabilia as well as its interactive exhibits. You can visit this museum online. Additionally, you can read or listen to some audio accounts of the Holocaust by survivors at http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/about/visual_center/usc.asp.
Students from all over the world travel to Poland each year for the international program, "March of the Living". The infamous death march from Auschwitz to Birkenau is retraced and then after Yom Hasho'ah, the participants travel to Israel to commemorate Yom Hazikaron and celebrate Yom Ha'atzma'ut.
Also on the WUJS site:
Yom HaShoah Activities.
Theology of Holocaust Sources
This year's dates for Yom HaShoah can be found in our Jewish Calendar.