Posted by: Elena's Israel Blog | 01/05/2011


Israel’s Knesset (parliament) established Yom Hashoah, also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day, as a memorial to about six million Jewish people who were slaughtered by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945. It is observed on the 27th day of the month of Nisan, which marks the day when Allied troops liberated the first Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald, Germany, in 1945. This year it will take place on May 1.

In Israel, the Knesset made Yom Hashoah a national public holiday in 1959 and in 1961 a law was passed that closed all public entertainment on Yom Hashoah. At ten in the morning, a siren is sounded where all people stop what they are doing for two minutes, pull over in their cars, and stand in remembrance. Poignant ceremonies are held, wreaths are laid at memorial sites, television networks feature Holocaust programming and places of entertainment are closed for 24 hours as Israeli Jews mourn their loss. This day is also observed in other countries, including the U.S.

Camp Uniform

Israel rose from the ashes of the Holocaust. One third of world Jewry disappeared due to unimaginable death, degradation and suffering, at the hands of Hitler’s Nazis. Having been so traumatized by the horrors of the concentration camps and the losses of their families, survivors today are just beginning to talk about it and help historians record details so that the world will never forget. There are many Holocaust museums in the world but Yad Vashem (a place and a name, from Isaiah 56:4-5) in Jerusalem is the largest and most well known. I have been there twice. Dignitaries who visit Israel almost always include a visit to Yad Vashem. It is impossible to walk through, viewing and listening, without being deeply moved. The atrocities that were conducted are an affront to anyone’s sense of human dignity. And that’s just it – the Nazis were brainwashed to consider Jews as non-human, pigs, unworthy to live.

Photos of many who perished

Jewish young people are taken to Yad Vashem as well as some of the Polish death camps in an annual pilgrimage called the ‘March of the Living’. Thousands march each year in a solemn 1.8 mile walk, rain or shine, from Auschwitz to Birkenau, carrying Israeli flags, as if to say ‘am yisrael chai’ (the people of Israel live!) ‘even though you tried to exterminate us as a people’. Never again!

In whatever form you observe Yom Hashoah, the memory of the Jewish victims will live on. God has promised to preserve His Chosen People and He has.

“Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel”‘” (Ezekiel 11:17)

“Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth” Isaiah 43:5b

“For God will save Zion and build the cities of Judah, that they may dwell there and possess it. Also, the descendants of His servants shall inherit it, and those who love His name shall dwell in it” (Psalm 69:35-36)

“But you, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to My people Israel, for they are about to come” (Ezekiel 36:8)



  1. “Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth” Isaiah 43:5b

    A co-worker asked me to scan an article she found in the Boston Globe. The co-worker is an 82 year old receptionist for the Commissioner of Public Health’s, Central Office where I work. She is still so full of life, so caring and a hard worker. As I read the article it became engraved in my mind and heart. When I returned the article to my friend and enthusiastically thanked her she began to reminicse. The article was about Ruth Gruber’s documentary “Ahead of Time”. She continued to tell me of her childhood days when she visited Ruth’s home in New York. This young childhood friend grew up to be the bridge that transported many Jewish people to America in 1944. The article follows:

    No Time Outs for Ruth Gruber
    November 04, 2010 – Michael Elkin, Arts & Entertainment Editor

    Ruth Gruber: A life bookended by reading and writing
    The book of Ruth has a brio of biblical proportions: A prolific and popularly published author/journalist Ruth Gruber grabbed life at its most newsworthy, covering the Nuremberg Trials and serving as photojournalist witness of the troubled waters bridged by the Exodus in 1947 (a memorable accomplishment in itself, even if Paul Newman wasn’t aboard).
    Gruber was also the Roosevelt administration’s admired choice of companion guide to accompany 1000 Holocaust refugees on their bonjour of a secretive 1944 journey from Naples to America.
    Woman, hear her roar!
    At 99?
    At 99.
    The woman so ahead of her time is now so timely a choice for a documentary of derring-do: The ageless writer/adventurer/agile docent of political tours she almost inadvertently signed on for — a smart Jewish Zelig with the zeitgeist sewn into her soul — is the subject of “Ahead of Time,” a fitting title for the success story of a woman who has been able to also head off the ravages of time itself.
    “Ahead of Time” opens on Friday, Nov. 5, at Landmark Ritz Five.
    Interviewed in her New York abode, abetted by flashy flashbacks of archival footage and fiery remembrances of those who joined her gypsy-like sojourns, Gruber graces the screen not so much in a fragile state as adrenaline-rushed with recall.

    Juneau where she is? Ruth Gruber in Alaska in 1941.
    And there is much to recall by this Jewish woman once described by political envoy Richard Brooke as one who bridged the troubled and joyous waters of the world’s politics: “You could not invent Ruth Gruber … not even in a movie.”
    No time out for Gruber: Brooke’s stream of consciousness comment proved ever so wrong; the screen is a haven for Gruber (whose own prose penmanship of her role in escorting the Holocaust refugees, Haven, found its own haven on TV, adapted into a 2001 telefilm).
    Always inventive, invariably ingenious, Gruber grew from a Brooklyn-born naif to neighborhood name, holding the distinction of being the youngest person in the world to earn a doctorate, which she did at age 20 as a college co-ed, co-opting expectations and drop-kicking corrosive caricatures and limitations for women off the field of play.
    She was a blend of smarts and street-savvy, helping her blend in — against her mother’s frightful entreaties to stay away — surreptitiously attending a Hitler rally in Germany while a student, struggling to surmise how such an obvious madman could manipulate furor and fire into a national psychosis that could contaminate all those who would seig heil on their way to a siege of hell.
    In a man’s world, she muscled her way into scoops and scores of awards, honors and applause, as this correspondent in foreign lands for so many papers found her writing grounded in terra firma (and terra frozen, as the first nonmilitary person to travel the Alaska Highway).
    It is not so ironic that just weeks ago, Gruber grabbed the Distinguished Humanitarian and Journalism Prize from the Norman Mailer Center, named for a macho writer who would as soon box a subject as write about him.
    For there was never boxing Gruber in, as she would edge out and ease into crowds to grab her story or — while working as an aide for Roosevelt — rise to a humanitarian level.
    Truth is, it also takes someone with a special warmth for words and wit to portray this wordsmith warrior so well. Who better than a man of global warming to weather such a figure than Bob Richman, making his directorial debut after having served as cinematographer for other works — namely the Oscar-winning “An Inconvenient Truth.”
    What a piece of work is man: He has made “Ahead of Time” more a timely mystery maze with a knowledgeable nonogenarian knitting the secrets of the world together.
    Convenient truth? Richman may well meet Gruber on yet another assignment — covering, with herself, as so often in the past, the story itself at the Oscars next year in the documentary department.

  2. In the Jerusalem Post today – wonderful news:
    Yad Vashem, Google team up to put Shoah (Holocaust) data online
    01/26/2011 13:50

    Project will make Holocaust photos and documents available on Internet; first batch already hits web; viewers can add their stories.

    The world’s largest collection of Holocaust documents is going digital.

    Israel’s Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, is teaming up with Google to make its photographs and documents interactive and searchable on the Internet. The first 130,000 photos hit the web Wednesday.

    Although much of Yad Vashem’s archive was already available through its formidable website, the new project enables users to search keywords and data just like a Google search.

    A social network-like component allows viewers to contribute to the project by adding their own stories, comments and documents about family members who appear in the online archives.

    Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev said even though that feature could be misused to post anti-Semitic comments, the risk is outweighed by the benefit provided to future generations seeking information about their ancestors.

    “This is part of our vision — to connect Yad Vashem’s knowledge and information to modern technology, and bring it to youngsters,” he said.

    The project started three years ago in the Tel Aviv skyscraper that houses Google’s research operations in Israel. It was inspired by a Google initiative encouraging employees to spend 20 percent of work time on projects they feel are important.

    Google used experimental optical character recognition technology to make text within documents and photos searchable in multiple languages.

    The move is just the latest in Yad Vashem’s digital outreach. Earlier this week, the memorial launched a version of its YouTube channel in Farsi to educate the country’s most bitter enemy — Iran — about the Nazi genocide of 6 million Jews.

    Yad Vashem’s next priority is to digitize its collection of survivor testimonies.

    The launch comes a day before the UN marks its annual Holocaust remembrance day.

  3. It is a matter of history that when the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, General Dwight Eisenhower, found the victims of the death camps he ordered all possible photographs to be taken, and for the German people from surrounding villages to be ushered through the camps and even made to bury the dead.
    He did this because he said in words to this effect:

    ‘Get it all on record now – get the films – get the witnesses – because somewhere down the road of history somebody will get up and say that this never happened’.

  4. It is so clear that history does repeat itself over and over in the Word of God. The Lord has his eye upon the Jewish people, clearly makes it known where He will set up his Kingdom when He returns. Those who harbor hatred and plan harm upon His Chosen and upon the Believers as in the past, will continue to bring destruction upon themselves. It is terrifying to see the hatred that exists in the world and the mass annihilation that is actually possible.

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