Updated: Jul 26
The internationally acknowledged Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day (or Holocaust Day, in English) is colloquially known in Israel and abroad as Yom HaShoah (יום השואה). It is observed in Israel as a national commemoration for the approximately six million European Jews who were victims of Jewish genocide by Nazi Germany and its operatives during World War II
The date of the memorial changes from year to year on the Gregorian calendar, but on the Hebrew calendar used primarily today for religious observances, it occurs on the twenty-seventh day of the month Nisan, the first month of the ecclesiastic year. This marks the anniversary of the beginning of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (April 19 - May 16.) This was the largest act of Jewish resistance during the war. In 2022, Yom HaShoah occurred from sunset April 27 to nightfall April 28. In 2023, it will be from sunset April 17 to nightfall April 18. During this time flags are flown at half staff throughout Israel.
Around the world, as in Israel, Yom HaShoah is solemnized in many different programs and acts of worship. Memorial prayers are recited. At some services, every participant lights a candle; at others, six candles or torches are lit, one for each million European Jews murdered. Survivors are honored and interviewed. There are musical and other cultural presentations.
Throughout Israel, at 10:00 a.m., a lone siren begins to wail. At once, all activity ceases. Pedestrians stop walking and remain in place. No one speaks. Cars pull to the side of the roads and highways, and drivers and passengers get out and stand silently for two somber minutes of reflection on the Holocaust victims. When the siren is over, people respectfully resume their affairs.
Despite the overwhelmingly tragic nature of the genesis of this act of devotion, I find it to be a beautiful expression of national unity.