UPDATE: 6 pm Thursday: All of Israel came to a halt at 10 am this morning for 2 minutes of silence to remember the 6,000,000 Jews murdered in the Holocaust. Cars stopped on freeways, television and radio went quiet, and people everywhere stood at attention. Yom Hashoah ends in another hour. An hour and a half ago at 4:30 pm, an Israeli motorist was attacked by Palestinian “rock” throwers near Beit Ummar, northwest of Hevron.
Before you begin reading this blog today, please pause for one minute of silence to remember the millions slaughtered in the Holocaust.
Every Yom Hashoah in Israel is a particularly sad day. The television channels broadcast nonstop stories detailing events that took place, people who died, and people who survived. Services are held across the country to recall those who perished at the hands of the Nazis and their accomplices. A national ceremony is held at the Knesset.
Every Israeli Jewish family is touched by the Holocaust. Every Israeli Jewish family is proud of those who survived the Holocaust to come to Israel and help establish the new state of Israel with those Jews who had never left Israel for 3300 years.
Particularly poignant, eloquent, and hopeful this year were the remarks of Israel President Shimon Peres who described how his family in Poland was killed. I repeat them here without comment:
I was born in Wieszniev. Half of the townspeople came to Israel. The other
half perished. After the war, I learned that on Sunday August 30th, a dark dawn had come upon my hometown.
The Nazis who had seized it ordered the Jews to pack their belongings and present themselves at their doorsteps. The SS officers passed by striking them and told them to proceed towards the synagogue.
One [Jew] cried out “Jews, save yourselves!” The Germans shot down those
who tried to escape. The rest reached the synagogue which was made of wood.
The doors were locked. All were burned alive.
That was the last day of Rabbi Zvi Meltzer, my grandfather, my mentor. The last words words he told me were “Wherever you go, stay Jewish, no matter what misfortune befalls you.”
He was consumed by fire with his Tallit on his head. That was the last Jewish day in Wieszniev. . . Not even a single Jew remained alive.
I visited Wieszniev after the war. Not a Jewish mark remains. Not a house,
not a synagogue, not a school, not a cemetery, only a heap of stones. As I stood there, the last Kol Nidrei prayer emitted by my grandfather’s sweet voice rang in my ears.
My lips murmured the Kadish . . .
[Today] we will say Kadish in memory of our brothers, sisters, parents and children who were killed in martyrdom. And we will ensure our children remain Jewish, body and soul, as they carry the load of Israel’s security and the peace of the Jewish Nation is on their shoulders.
We came today to say Kadish in memory of our beloved ones who were killed in the Holocaust. We came to say and to swear “Never again”. We came to say that we are a peaceful people who can defend itself. We can and we will. We have built and we shall build.
We will always remember our 6 million who perished in the Holocaust.
In one week we will raise the flags of Israel’s Independence which rose for
the first time 64 years ago. Today, it is clear that the reality we have
built is the vision we once dreamed. We will proudly wave the flags of the
future of Israel, as an independent, moral, creative and contributing state.
Let us wave the flags of peace, security and brotherhood.
THIS DAY IN ISRAELI HISTORY
On April 19, 1998, Dov Driben, a 28 year old farmer was murdered by Palestinian terrorists near the Israeli town of Maon in the Hevron Hills–not far from the location of the terrorist attack reported in today’s update.