Millions of Israelis will mark Remembrance Day on Sunday evening, and pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives for the country’s defense.
A minute-long siren will ring out across the country at 8 p.m. on Sunday, and a two minute siren will be heard on Monday at 11 a.m.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz will join President Shimon Peres for a candle-lighting ceremony at the Western Wall on Sunday evening.
On Monday, the official state memorial ceremony will commence at 11 a.m. at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Peres and Gantz will be in attendance.
At the same time, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon will attend a memorial ceremony at the military cemetery at Kiryat Shaul.
Israel, including the pre-state yishuv, has lost 25,578 casualties to war and terrorism since 1860, according to figures released by the Defense Ministry.
Over the past year, 43 disabled IDF veterans died of their disabilities, and have been recognized as fallen soldiers.
Also on Monday, more than 1.5 million Israelis are expected to visit military cemeteries, and the Defense Ministry has organized hundreds of buses to transport people.
The ministry has also prepared 1 million water bottles to hand out to bereaved families and the general public at the entrance to cemeteries. It expects some 23,000 candles to be lit at grave sites.
There are 10,245 bereaved parents, 4,964 widows, and 2,324 people orphaned by war or terrorist attacks – a total of 17,533.
On Thursday night, Ya’alon emphasized the IDF’s role in keeping Israelis safe.
“Despite everything, despite so many elements that wanted to prevent this country’s founding, and who continue to invest so much everyday to destroy us – they arise here in our intelligence assessments, Iran, Hezbollah – nevertheless, there is no doubt, that what stands between independence and a lack of independence is the shield of the IDF.”
An Israeli theater project that brings Holocaust survivors and Jewish high school students together on stage will have its American debut on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day with local Shoah survivors and students from New York.
The Israeli Witness Theater project was brought to the United States for the first time by the UJA- Federation of New York, which sponsors the project in Israel together with JDC- Eshel. The program works in conjunction with Selfhelp Community Services.
As part of the program, Holocaust survivors from around New York have been working on the show with Jewish students, ages 17 and 18, from the Yeshiva of Flatbush, Joel Braverman High School in Brooklyn over the course of the past year.
The first show will be taking place on Sunday, the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel.
The Witness Theater Program is an innovative and emotional intergenerational “journey” for Holocaust survivors and high school students. Working together, the two generations elicit and expose the moving stories of survival and explore issues of war, loss and trauma.
The survivors are the narrators, and students work with them to draw out their stories and to enact their wartime experiences.
The concept for the program was developed by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s division for the elderly in Israel (JDC-Eshel), supported by UJA-Federation of New York, and is currently operating in many cities across Israel.
Selfhelp Community Services, Inc. (Selfhelp), the largest provider of services to Nazi victims in North America, is implementing this powerful and moving program in the United States.
Selfhelp is working in partnership with the Yeshiva of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School. Thirteen students and ten Holocaust survivors are participating this year. The students were recruited from the senior class at Yeshiva of Flatbush and the Holocaust survivors are connected with Selfhelp’s Brooklyn programs.
The Yeshiva of Flatbush’s partnership with Selfhelp and Witness Theater is an outgrowth of its well established commitment to Holocaust Studies that is integrated into the yeshiva’s curriculum at every grade level.
Beginning in September 2012, students and survivors have been meeting weekly over the course of the academic year with a trained drama therapist, theater director and social worker. The project will culminate in the production of staged performances, with the student actors portraying the personal stories of the survivors in their group.
These moving accounts highlight the memories, pain and survival of the Holocaust through the eyes, ears and speech of youth. The program aims to involve Holocaust survivors in a therapeutic process designed to help them come to terms with their past, and to instill the memory of the Holocaust in the next generation. The performances serve as a vehicle for the survivors’ testimony to be heard by many and to witness the special connections made between the generations.
There will be two performances of Witness Theater: On Sunday at 7 pm, and on Monday, Holocaust Remembrance Day, at 10 am. The performances will be held at the Yeshiva of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School in Brooklyn.
Selfhelp plans to continue this project for a second year in New York, beginning in fall 2013.
But there is one day in the year when we make a special effort to remember (Zachor). Upon this one day, we remember those that suffered, those that fought, and those that died. Six million Jews were murdered. Many families were completely decimated.
Why this day?
Jewish history is long and filled with many stories of slavery and freedom, sorrow and joy, persecution and redemption. For Jews, their history, their family, and their relationship with God have shaped their religion and their identity. The Hebrew calendar is filled with varied holidays that incorporate and reiterate the history and tradition of the Jewish people.
After the horrors of the Holocaust, Jews wanted a day to memorialize this tragedy. But what day? The Holocaust spanned years with suffering and death spread throughout these years of terror. No one day stood out as representative of this destruction.
So various days were suggested.
For two years, the date was debated. Finally, in 1950, compromises and bargaining began. The 27th of Nissan was chosen, which falls beyond Passover but within the time span of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Orthodox Jews still did not like this date because it was a day of mourning within the traditionally happy month of Nissan. As a final effort to compromise, it was decided that if the 27th of Nissan would affect Shabbat (fall on Friday or Saturday), then it would be moved. If the 27th of Nissan falls on a Friday, Holocaust Remembrance Day is moved to the preceding Thursday. If the 27th of Nissan falls on a Sunday, then Holocaust Remembrance Day is moved to the following Monday.
On April 12, 1951, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) proclaimed Yom Hashoah U’Mered HaGetaot (Holocaust and Ghetto Revolt Remembrance Day) to be the 27th of Nissan. The name later became known as Yom Hashoah Ve Hagevurah (Devastation and Heroism Day) and even later simplified to Yom Hashoah.
How is it observed?
Since Yom Hashoah is a relatively new holiday, there are no set rules or rituals. What kind of ritual could represent the Holocaust?
There are various beliefs about what is and is not appropriate on this day – and many of them are conflicting. In general, Yom Hashoah has been observed with candlelighting, speakers, poems, prayers, and singing. Often, six candles are lighted to represent the six million. Holocaust survivors speak about their experiences or share in the readings. Some ceremonies have people read from the Book of Names for certain lengths of time in an effort to remember those that died and to give an understanding of the huge number of victims. Sometimes these ceremonies are held in a cemetery or near a Holocaust memorial.
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 everyone stops what they are doing, pull over in their cars, and stand in remembrance.
In whatever form you observe Yom Hashoah, the memory of the Jewish victims will live on.
Source + More via: About.com
Below some pictures and a video from the 2 minute moment of silence that occurred at 10am Israel time
Remains of a Byzantine settlement with an impressive winepress were recently excavated on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority near the Hamei Yoav spa in southern Israel.
The salvage excavation was conducted prior to the construction of a garden for outdoor events by the Shevet Ahim group, led by the Yifrah Brothers Company. The archaeological site will be incorporated in the projected garden.
According to Dr. Rina Avner, the excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The winepress exceeded 100 square meters (1,076 square feet) in area. It consists of a large treading floor, surrounded by six compartments on the north and east. These compartments were used for fermenting grapes upon their arrival from the vineyards to produce high-quality wine.
“The treading floor slopes to the west, where a settling vat and two collecting pits are situated in a row. A led pipe connects between the treading floor and the settling vat, which in turn is connected by two led pipes to the two collecting pits.
“In the center of the treading floor is a depression, intended for a screw press. This device would allow applying further pressure to the grape remains from the compartments and thus, to produce vinegar and low-quality wine, mentioned in rabbinic sources as ‘paupers’ wine.’”
The owner of the winepress was likely Christian, as attested by a ceramic lantern found nearby, which was decorated with five crosses. The lantern has the shape of a miniature church building; an oval opening on one side served to insert an oil lamp.
The other sides of the lantern were decorated in geometric patterns, creating a design of palm branches. The crosses adorned the walls of the lantern, so when the lantern was lit, crosses were projected on the walls and the ceiling.
Sa’ar Ganor, the Ashkelon district archaeologist of the Israel antiquities Authority, pointed out that “the winepress at Hamei Yoav, as well as three similar winepresses unearthed nearby, are located along the ancient road that led from Beth Guvrin to ancient Ashkelon and its port, thus facilitating the transportation of wine to Ashkelon, and its exportation from the port of Ashkelon to Europe and North Africa.
“The winepress will undergo conservation and will be incorporated in the modern complex of the garden, near the spa of Hamei Yoav.”