Yom Hazikaron laShoah ve-laG'vurah (יום הזיכרון לשואה
Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day"), known
Israel and abroad as
Yom HaShoah (יום השואה)
and in English as
Holocaust Remembrance Day, or
Holocaust Day, is
observed as Israel's day of commemoration for the approximately six
million Jews who perished in the
Holocaust as a result of the actions
carried out by
Nazi Germany and its collaborators, and for the Jewish
resistance in that period. In Israel, it is a national memorial day.
The first official commemorations took place in 1951, and the
observance of the day was anchored in a law passed by the
1959. It is held on the 27th of
Nisan (April/May), unless the 27th
would be adjacent to the Jewish Sabbath, in which case the date is
shifted by a day.
3 Religious observances and liturgy
3.1 Orthodox Judaism
3.2 Conservative Judaism
3.3 Reform Judaism
4 Gregorian dates
5 See also
7 External links
Holocaust Remembrance Day in
Israel took place on 28
December 1949, following a decision of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel
that an annual memorial should take place on the Tenth of Tevet, a
traditional day of mourning and fasting in the Hebrew calendar. The
day was marked by the burial in a Jerusalem cemetery of ashes and
bones of thousands of Jews brought from the Flossenbürg concentration
camp and religious ceremonies held in honor of the victims. A radio
program on the
Holocaust was broadcast that evening. The following
year, in December 1950, the Rabbinate, organizations of former
European Jewish communities and the
Israel Defense Forces held
memorial ceremonies around the country; they mostly involved funerals,
in which objects such as desecrated
Torah scrolls and the bones and
ashes of the dead brought from Europe were interred. 
In 1951, the
Knesset began deliberations to choose a date for
Holocaust Remembrance Day. On 12 April 1951, after also considering as
possibilities the Tenth of Tevet, the 14th of Nisan, which is the day
Passover and the day on which the
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (April
19, 1943) had begun, and September 1, the date on which the Second
World War had begun, the
Knesset passed a resolution establishing the
Nisan in the Hebrew calendar, a week after Passover, and eight days
Israel Independence Day as the annual
Holocaust and Ghetto
Uprising Remembrance Day.
On 3 May 1951, the first officially organized
Day event was held at the Chamber of the
Holocaust on Mount Zion; the
Israel Postal Service issued a special commemorative envelope, and a
bronze statue of Mordechai Anielewicz, the leader of the Warsaw Ghetto
revolt, was unveiled at Yad Mordechai, a kibbutz named for him. From
the following year, the lighting of six beacons in memory of the six
million Jews killed by the Nazis became a standard feature of the
official commemoration of
Holocaust Memorial Day.
On 8 April 1959, the
Knesset officially established the day when it
passed the Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day Law with the
purpose of instituting an annual “commemoration of the disaster
which the Nazis and their collaborators brought upon the Jewish people
and the acts of heroism and revolt performed.” The law was signed by
the Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, and the President of
Israel, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi. It established that the day would be observed
by a two-minute silence when all work would come to a halt throughout
the country, memorial gatherings and commemorative events in public
and educational institutions would be held, flags would be flown at
half mast, and programs relevant to the day would be presented on the
radio and in places of entertainment. An amendment to the law in 1961
mandated that cafes, restaurants and clubs be closed on the day.
Yom HaShoah opens in
Israel at sundown in a state ceremony held in
Warsaw Ghetto Square at Yad Vashem, the
Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes
Authority, in Jerusalem. During the ceremony the national flag is
lowered to half mast, the President and the Prime Minister both
Holocaust survivors light six torches symbolizing
the approximately six million Jews who perished in the
the Chief Rabbis recite prayers.
On Yom HaShoah, ceremonies and services are held at schools, military
bases and by other public and community organizations.
On the eve of
Yom HaShoah and the day itself, places of public
entertainment are closed by law. Israeli television airs Holocaust
documentaries and Holocaust-related talk shows, and low-key songs are
played on the radio. Flags on public buildings are flown at half mast.
At 10:00, an air raid siren sounds throughout the country and Israelis
are expected to observe two minutes of solemn reflection. Almost
everyone stops what they are doing, including motorists who stop their
cars in the middle of the road, standing beside their vehicles in
silence as the siren is sounded.
Observance of the day is moved back to the Thursday before, if 27
Nisan falls on a Friday (as in 2008), or forward a day, if 27 Nisan
falls on a Sunday (to avoid adjacency with the Jewish Sabbath). The
fixed Jewish calendar ensures 27
Nisan does not fall on Saturday.
Flags at half mast at sundown on Yom HaShoah
Sirens blare at 10:00 as motorists exit their cars and stand in
silence in front of the Prime Minister's House in Jerusalem and
Israel on Yom HaShoah
Video: Two minutes in silence in Tel Aviv
The March of the Living
The March of the Living from Auschwitz to Birkenau is held annually on
Jewish communities and individuals throughout the world commemorate
Yom HaShoah in synagogues as well as in the broader Jewish community.
Many hold their commemorative ceremonies on the closest Sunday to Yom
HaShoah as a more practical day for people to attend, while some mark
the day on 19 April, the anniversary of the
Warsaw Ghetto uprising.
Jewish schools also hold Holocaust-related educational programs on or
near Yom HaShoah.
Commemorations typically include memorial services and communal vigils
and educational programs. These programs often include talks by
Holocaust survivors (although this is becoming less common as time
passes and there are fewer survivors who remain alive),
candle-lighting ceremonies, the recitation of memorial prayers, the
Mourner's Kaddish and appropriate songs and readings. Some communities
read the names of
Holocaust victims or show Holocaust-themed
Since 1988 in Poland, a memorial service has been held after a
3-kilometer walk by thousands of participants from Auschwitz to
Birkenau in what has become known as "The March of the Living"
Religious observances and liturgy
In the last few decades all the prayerbooks of Conservative, Reform
Reconstructionist Judaism have developed similar liturgies to be
used on Yom HaShoah. The siddurim of these groups add passages that
are meant to be added to standard weekday service, as well as
stand-alone sections. These liturgies generally include:
Lighting of a candle (often each member of the congregation lights
Modern poems, including "I believe in the sun even when it is not
El Malei Rahamim (God, full of mercy, dwelling on high)
In response to the lack of liturgy dedicated to Yom HaShoah, Daniel
Gross composed, in 2009, I Believe: A Shoah Requiem, a complete
musical liturgy dedicated to the observance of Yom HaShoah. An a
cappella oratorio scored for cantor, soprano solo, adult chorus and
children's chorus, I Believe features several traditional prayer texts
such as the
Mourner's Kaddish (Kaddish Yatom) and the El Malei
memorial prayer, and also includes the poetry of Paul Celan and Primo
Levi. On April 7, 2013, I Believe had its world premiere
presentation at Orchestra Hall at the Max M. Fisher Music Center in
While there are Orthodox Jews who commemorate the
Holocaust on Yom
HaShoah, others in the Orthodox community, especially Haredim,
including Hasidim, remember the victims of the
traditional days of mourning which were already in place before the
Holocaust, such as
Tisha B'Av in the summer, and the
Tenth of Tevet in
the winter, because in the Jewish tradition the month of
considered a joyous month associated with
Passover and messianic
redemption. Some ultra-Orthodox rabbis recommend adding piyyutim
(religious poems) written by contemporary rabbis to the liturgy of
Tisha B’Av; some adherents follow this advice.
Yom HaShoah Yellow Candle
In 1981, members of the Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs FJMC, a
branch of the mainstream Conservative/Masorti movement, created a
special memorial project specifically for Yom HaShoah. A dedicated
yahrzeit candle was conceived, with yellow wax and a barbed-wire Star
of David logo reminiscent of the armbands Jews were forced to wear
during the Holocaust. This object has come to be known as the Yellow
Candle (TM). Approximately 200,000 candles are distributed around the
world each year, along with relevant prayers and meditations.
In 1984, Conservative
David Golinkin wrote an article in
Conservative Judaism journal suggesting a program of observance for
the holiday, including fasting. In his article he noted that while
private fasts are indeed prohibited during the month of
Nisan (a major
Orthodox objection to the placement of the day), communal fasts for
tragedies befalling Jewish communities had indeed been declared
throughout the pre-Modern period.
Another prominent Conservative Jewish figure shared the Orthodox
sentiment about not adopting Yom HaShoah. Ismar Schorsch, former
Chancellor of Conservative Judaism's Jewish Theological Seminary of
America held that
Holocaust commemoration should take place on Tisha
The Masorti (Conservative) movement in
Israel has created Megillat
HaShoah, a scroll and liturgical reading for Yom HaShoah. This
publication was a joint project of Jewish leaders in Israel, the
United States and Canada.
In 2011, the FJMC introduced a related Yellow Candle concept for use
Kristallnacht (The Night of Shattered Glass) and other important
Shoah commemoration dates. Called the Ner Katan, FJMC's new version
consists of six Yellow Candles provided for communal observances and
More recently Conservative rabbis and lay leaders in the US, Israel
and Canada collaborated to write Megillat Hashoah (The Holocaust
Scroll). It contains personal recollections of
Holocaust survivors. A
responsa was written by
David Golinkin expressing the view that
not only is it legitimate for the modern Jewish community to write a
new scroll of mourning, it was also incumbent to do so.
Reform Jewish congregations have tended to commemorate the memory of
Holocaust either on International
Day or on Yom HaShoah. These commemorations of the
used a ceremony that is loosely modeled after a
The focus of the seder has changed with time. The earlier Holocaust
seders commemorated the losses of the
Holocaust through a reenactment
events from the Holocaust and through the lighting of
six yahrzeit candles to reflect the approximately 6 million
Jews murdered. More modern Haggadot for Yom HaShoah,
such as Gathering from the Whirlwind, have concentrated
on renewal, remembrance, and the continuity of Jewish life.
In 1988 the American Reform movement published Six Days of Destruction
Elie Wiesel and
Rabbi Albert Friedlander). Narratives from Holocaust
survivors are juxtaposed with the six days of creation found in
Upcoming dates of observance:
2017: Monday, April 24
2018: Thursday, April 12
2019: Thursday, May 2
2020: Tuesday, April 21
2021: Thursday, April 8
2022: Thursday, April 28
Holocaust Memorial Day
Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust
Holocaust Remembrance Day
^ a b "Remembrance Day Calendar". United States
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^ a b c d Gilad, Elon (27 April 2014). "The History of Holocaust
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^ Naor, Mordechai (1998). "1951". The Twentieth Century in Eretz
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^ "Marking Yom HaShoah: Calendars And Memory, God And History". The
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^ "Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day Law" [English translation]
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(No. 280): 112. 17 April 1959. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
^ In the Jewish calendar the day begins in the evening and ends in the
Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day, April 18–19,
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^ Schechter, Jack (2014). Journey of a Rabbi: Vision and Strategies
for the Revitalization of Jewish Life. UPA. p. 464.
^ "Siren brings
Israel to a halt as country marks Holocaust
Remembrance Day". The Jerusalem Post JPost.com. Retrieved April 23,
^ Harman, Danna (April 28, 2014). "WATCH: Israelis Pause in Silence as
Siren Sounds for
Holocaust Remembrance Day". Haaretz. Retrieved April
^ "Yom Hashoah:
Holocaust Memorial Day". My Jewish Learning. 2018.
Retrieved 17 January 2018.
^ a b "Jewish Holidays:
Yom HaShoah -
Holocaust Memorial Day". Jewish
Virtual Library. 2018.
^ "Thousands walk from Auschwitz to Birkenau in March of the Living".
Jerusalem Post. May 5, 2016. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
^ "About the March". March of the Living. Retrieved 17 January
^ Gary Graff. Interfaith Shoah Requiem at Orchestra Hall
^ "Yom Hashoah:
Holocaust Memorial Day". My Jewish Learning. Retrieved
April 23, 2017.
^ Feinstein, Moshe (1996). Igros Moshe, Volume 8, Yoreh Deah, Siman
57. New York. p. 289.
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^ "Megillat HaShoah: The
Holocaust Scroll". Archived from the original
on July 19, 2011.
^ "A seder for Yom Hashoah". washingtonjewishweek.com. Retrieved April
^ "Seder Yom Hashoah – Welcome". www.sederyomhashoah.com. Retrieved
April 20, 2017.
^ "Gathering from The Whirlwind".
^ "Changing face of
Holocaust education TJP". tjpnews.com. Retrieved
April 20, 2017.
^ Reporter, Janice Arnold, Staff (April 10, 2012). "Third seder
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^ "Six Days of Destruction". Science Direct. Retrieved April 23,
^ "Yom HaShoah". Hebrew Calendar. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Yom HaShoah.
Yom Hashoah on the
Yad Vashem website
Yom HaShoah from the Israeli
Knesset (in English)
Yom HaShoah from the Israeli
Knesset (in Hebrew)
The Forum for
Yom HaShoah (UK)
Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom Ha-Shoah) at the Jewish Virtual Library
Nisan as standard dates on HebCal
Holocaust Memorial Museum – Days of Remembrance
Holocaust Remembrance Day April 2007.
Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust
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