Chairman of the Helping Hand Coalition – Dr. Andre Gasiorowski had a privilege to attend very special event, together with Israeli politicians, judges, survivors and other dignitaries gathered Thursday at the Knesset in Jerusalem for a Holocaust remembrance ceremony titled “Unto Every Person There is a Name”.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau, former chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yaakov Yosef said Kaddish, Supreme Court President Miriam Naor, and US Ambassador Dan Kevin Shapiro were key speakers of the event.
The commemoration took place in the Knesset’s Chagall Hall, beginning with the lighting of six candles, in memory of the six million Jews murdered. ‘Every person has a name,’ Knesset says on Holocaust Remembrance Day. MK Ya’acov Margi read from Psalms, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yaakov Yosef said Kaddish and an IDF cantor chanted the El Maleh Rachamim prayer.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein began the name-reading by reading the names of children who died in the Sharogorod Ghetto in Transnistria, where his grandparents and mother survived the Holocaust.
President Reuven Rivlin read the names of soldiers killed in the War of Independence who were the last surviving members of their families, as well as the names of their relatives who were murdered by the Nazis. His wife, Nechama Rivlin, read names of relatives, and had to stop in the middle to compose herself, as she was crying.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kept his annual tradition of reading a poem his father-in-law, Shmuel Ben-Artzi, wrote in 1941 in Israel, when he lost touch with his family in Europe and did not know what happened to them. They all died in the Holocaust.
Supreme Court President Miriam Naor said she and her cousins did research to find out names and details about relatives who were killed in the Holocaust.
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau talked about questions of Jewish law that arose in the Holocaust, recounting one, whose source is unknown, about a man who found bread that was hidden and was unsure if he could eat it or not, because someone might come back to look for it and he wouldn’t be able to repay the person. Lau, whose father, former chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, survived Buchenwald, also read the names of his grandparents and their family members who were killed.
US Ambassador Dan Shapiro participated in the ceremony, reading names of US Embassy staff members’ relatives who died in the Holocaust.
Many politicians opted to also speak about the victims, describing their lives before the Holocaust. In the same hall as the ceremony, the Knesset displayed photographs taken by Holocaust survivors as part of a phototherapy course given by the Welfare Ministry and the Joint Distribution Committee.
Earlier, millions of Israelis came to a mournful, two-minute standstill as sirens pierced the air in remembrance of the victims. As the siren sounded, cars and buses pulled over on the side of highways and roads. Motorists stepped out of their cars and pedestrians stopped in their tracks, bowing their heads as they remembered those who perished. Afterward, ceremonies were held throughout the country.