Yom Hashoa, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, is the day set aside to remember the approximately six-million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. In Israel, it is a national memorial day.
Yom Hashoa was inaugurated in 1959, anchored in a law signed by then Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and Israeli President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi. The original proposal was to hold Yom Hashoa on the 14th of the Jewish month of Nisan, the anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising (April 19, 1943), but this was problematic because the 14th of Nisan is the day immediately before the start of Passover. Thus, the date was moved to the 27th of Nisan, which is eight days before Yom Ha'atzma'ut, or Israeli Independence Day. Because the 27th of Nisan changes each year on the secular calendar, the date of the commemoration varies year to year.
The Holocaust Center has been holding a community-wide commemoration since the establishment of the Center in 1981. The program includes the singing of the American and Israeli anthems (Star Spangled Banner and Hatikva), Ani Ma'amin - - a Hebrew song believed to be sung by the Jews in Warsaw, Lodz, and Bialystock as they were taken to their deaths. It is based on Maimonides "Thirteen Articles of Faith". K'eyl Maley Rachamim - - the Memorial Prayer for the Departed is sung too. The Kaddish is also recited in memory of the six million innocent lives that were lost. The program traditionally closes with the singing of the Partisan Song (Zog Nit Keynmol) - - the song of the Vilna Ghetto Partisans.
A candle-lighting ceremony is also part of the commemorative program. Six candles are lit in memory of the six million and one candle is lit in honor of the Righteous - - those non-Jews who risked their lives to save the lives of their Jewish friends and neighbors. The candle-lighters are comprised of local survivors, community members, and lay leaders who have a connection to the year's topic.
The next Yom Hashoa Remembrance event will be held on Monday, April 8, 2013. Please stay tuned for more details about this event.