Yom HaShoah: Names We Remember.
By Dr. Elana Yael Heideman
The goal of every Yom HaShoah program is to make the experience meaningful for everyone in attendance. To do justice to the memory of the murdered and to honor the few who are still alive.
To have led hundreds of people in a memorial program in Tel Aviv was a truly powerful and emotional experience. This has been my life's work for decades, and the ability to make a difference for the sake of memory remains central to everything I do.
After our successful program in Jerusalem, we again partnered with Adopt a Safta and Nefesh B'Nefesh to create a special ceremony in English for those who might otherwise not have a place or yet understand the numerous ceremonies in Hebrew that take place in every school, community, or museums.
We came together to remember. To learn. To inherit. We came together to pay tribute to the memory of the deceased, to the dignity of life destroyed, and to the legacy that we shall pass on to future generations. We listened to the testimony of Zeni Rosenstein, who was 6 years old at the time of the Holocaust.
Inviting them each to share the names of survivors they have met, or family that has perished, one by one they arose from the audience, one after the other, and the names filled the room.
The impact was undeniable. The recitation of names continued and the surrounding silence had a power of its own. The accents of those who joined us - American, French, British, South African, Australian, even Israelis - were evidence of the various countries from which we came, all sharing in common our return to our ancient homeland to build a life in Israel.
Just as we honored the decimation of Hungarian Jewry 70 years ago - in the short 10 weeks of deportations in which 80% were sent to their death upon arrival - so, too, did we pay tribute to the events of 1944, and honor all who perished, all who suffered, and all who lived to tell the world.
As I read through my Facebook feed last night and this morning, I encounter messages of memory from friends and acquaintances around the world - some of which I have shared below - and am so grateful for the tool of social media through which people can prove the importance of memory.
My heart is heavy, I choke back tears, and I cherish the moment every year that I can stand in silence with the nation of Israel as the siren reminds us of our eternal connection - to the dead, to the living, and to each other.
May we always remember the names of the survivors we have encountered throughout our lives, taking it upon ourselves to transmit their memory, their stories, whatever details we can, to ensure that "Never Forget" does not remain an empty cliche....
Debbie Katz Rosenzweig On Yom HaShoah I find myself without words - everything is too small to include, commemorate, decry, or understand the unfathomable horrors of the holocaust. My life is my response. My life as a proud, committed, Jew living in Israel trying my best to contribute to the building of the inspiring future of our people. May we always defend justice and fight oppression while living kindly, gently and full of love.
Bat Zion Susskind-Sacks Just listened to the testimonies of Six survivors who lit the candles. I thought I heard it all but my goodness the stories never end. My people is alive and will continue to live thrive and contribute. Tonight more than ever I pledge Am Yisrael Chai.!
Shari Shuter-Jovani Today I thought 'in their memory, and for their honor, let me strive to do better in this world...'
Lucy Dukore Today is Yom #HaShaoh, #Holocaust Remembrance Day- and in Israel there are a lot of things going on but at home, perhaps not. Even if I'm the only Jew you know and you don't care, take the time to educate yourself, find out what it was- for the sake of the 6 MILLION PEOPLE who died, or just because you know me. (You would be surprised how many people don't know what the Holocaust is)
Itzik Yarkoni Today we must be part of the story..Today we must remember and tell the story to others..Their story is part of us now and we will teach it and remember it always. Never again
Paula R. Stern A candle is burning in my window...for six million....for Yeshaya Zeev, for Yehoshua, for Shmuel, for Binyamin Elimelech, for Chaim Eliezer, for Raizel and her two daughters, for little Gavriella. Each one was a whole world...their light lives on...never ever again...because WE won't allow it...
Laura Kam Just when you think you heard everything about the Holocaust you learn a new and amazing story...
Miriam Kresh The hardest thing I've seen, on the street while the Holocaust remembrance siren is blowing, is old people standing with their heads in their hands and weeping.
Stuart Schnee 119 family members on my mother's side.
Debbie Gold Hadar Holocaust Memorial Day. One of the two days in the year when I feel my motherhood most keenly. Weeping for those who died so prematurely, cherishing my own dearly. May their memory Be blessed.
Muriel Tebid My heart is heavy remembering the death of so many of my fellow Jews. My heart soars at the beauty and strength of the State of Israel. I never forget.
Amy D. Goldstein Today we remember those who lost their lives during the Holocaust - may their martyrdom remind us the cost of silence in the face of anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry - whether it's in the streets of Europe or in America's college campuses.
Chaya Zebrak David As an Oleh, with no family to speak of who actually perished in the Shoah... my mind wanders...always comes home, here to Israel, with a sense of sorrow and then an abrupt burst of pride.