Built Upon Its Ashes, Israel Remembers the Holocaust

April 27, 2014

3 min read

Holocaust Memorial Day
Ceremony at Israel’s Holocaust Museum at Yad Vashem. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey/ Wiki Commons)

Built upon the ashes of the Holocaust, Israel has always had a unique relationship with Holocaust remembrance. From the creation of the state to the inauguration of Yad V’ashem – the “World Center for Holocaust Research, Education, Documentation and Commemoration”, Israel has made it a primary mission to recall and educate the world about the Holocaust.

Indeed, every visiting foreign dignitary from the rank of General and upwards who visits Israel on an official visit must by law stop and visit Yad V’ashem at least once during their trip to Israel.

The Holocaust has become an integral part of the Israeli psyche, with even the military taking an active effort educating the country about the Holocaust by bringing thousands of soldiers, both in their active tour of duty as well as those in reserve units, to visit Yad V’ashem and hear stories from Holocaust survivors.

Additionally, the high school curriculum in Israel for Jewish History and Social Studies classes both have large portions of time allotted for the study of the Holocaust. In some education streams an entire year or more of the curriculum is dedicated to studying the Holocaust, while at the university level, some degrees such as education and history regulate a mandatory class in Holocaust study as well.


No day gives more attention to the Holocaust than Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance day. Yom HaShoah is one of only two days on the calendar in which all places of public entertainment must be closed down by law, the other being the high holiday of Yom Kippur.

Most stores, restaurants, places of work and local markets are closed as well to allow people to attend a remembrance ceremony for the victims of the Holocaust. In each city in Israel, a myriad of events take place in as many languages as are spoken in the country to commemorate the Holocaust.

During the day, a one minute siren sounds throughout Israel at 10 am, signaling the entire country to pause and remember those viciously murdered at the hands of the Nazis. Cars stop in the middle of busy highways with drivers and passengers standing next to their cars in silence. People on the sidewalks stop walking and stand in place, heads bowed. The world stops for those who are no longer here. It is quite a moment for the people of Israel to be a part of, to witness, to never forget.

Israel’s state opening ceremony will be held at Yad V’ashem and broadcast live beginning at 8 pm Sunday night, Israel time. The ceremony will be opened by the President of the State of Israel, the Prime Minister, dignitaries, survivors, children of survivors and their families, and the general public. To watch the ceremony, which will take place in Hebrew, click here.

If you know of someone who was a victim of the Holocaust or have a story of a relative which remains to be told, you can visit this site of Yad V’ashem to register their names to be read in the Hall of Remembrance.

WATCH: Israel’s busiest highway stops to remember the victims of the Holocaust – 2013 Holocaust Remembrance Day Siren

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