Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin invited Holocaust survivors from across the country to his official Jerusalem residence Monday to light the second Hanukkah candle.
“It is a great honor to welcome you here today to Beit HaNasi (the President’s residence) in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, the independent, free Jewish and democratic state and to say the blessing for new occasions together with you, in joy and with a full heart,” remarked the president.
Rivlin continued that Hanukkah commemorates both heroism and miracles, facets that also describe the Holocaust survivors’ lives. He said that their survival was a miracle and that their story was the tale of an entire generation, which rose from disaster and despair to rebirth, which was rescued from the depths of evil and chose life. “A generation that contributed to Israeli society and the State of Israel in every area of life. A generation that emerged from the depths of the abyss and created the State of Israel here in the Land of Israel – a country to be proud of,” he added.
The hanukiyah – the special eight-branched candelabrum – that the president lit has a special lineage. It was recently found in the Polish town of Sompolno following information that came to the ‘Shem Olam’ International Center from a Polish woman. It belonged to the synagogue in the town, but was buried during the Holocaust and remained hidden for more than 75 years. It is among the only remnants of an obliterated Jewish community. The town’s approximately 1,200 Jewish residents were shipped off to the Chelmno death camp in 1942.
The president recognized the work of the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors and its various organizations who are striving to restitute property – artistic and cultural treasures belonging to Holocaust – which were looted, confiscated, and sold under Nazi occupation in Germany and other countries.
“This hanukiyah came home, but there are other art objects and works that were stolen and have not yet been returned,” he said.