Yom HaShoah, also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day, is a national memorial day in Israel. The full name of the holiday is Yom HaShoah Ve-Hagevurah, translated as the “Day of (remembrance of) the Holocaust and the Heroism.”
The day was selected in a resolution passed by the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, on April 12, 1951.
Yom HaShoah in Israel
On every Yom HaShoah since the 1960s, there has been the unmistakable sound of a siren, which brings traffic and pedestrians to a halt throughout the State of Israel for two minutes of silent devotion. The siren sounds twice—once at sundown and again at 11 am the next day. All radio and television programming focuses on the history of the Holocaust. All public events are closed throughout Israel in solemn observance.
In honor of Yom HaShoah, thousands of visitors converge on Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the six million Jews who died at the hands of the Nazis.
Established in 1953, eight years after the end of the Second World War, and five years after the State of Israel’s inception, this 45-acre campus is comprised of indoor museums, outdoor monuments, gardens, and sculptures. It is considered by many to be the most powerful and poignant tribute to the names and legacies of the victims who lost their lives in the Holocaust.
The name Yad Vashem means “A Place and a Name” and is based on the everlasting promise of Isaiah 56:5:
“Even to them I will give in My house
And within My walls a place and a name
Better than that of sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
That shall not be cut off.”
In addition to honoring the memory of those who perished, Yad Vashem’s research center continues to work tirelessly to record the names of victims who had no one to mourn them.
A rebuilt version of the Yad Vashem museum opened in 2005. Shaped as a prism penetrating the mountain, the museum’s architecture sets the atmosphere for nine galleries of interactive displays which present the history of the Holocaust in stills, films, documents, letters, works of art, and personal items found in the camps and ghettos.
The museum leads into the Hall of Names, a space containing over three million names of Holocaust victims that were submitted by their families and relatives. A hole in the floor symbolizes the victims whose names will never be recorded. Names can still be submitted by visitors to the memorial and are added to the computerized archive, which visitors can then access.
Visitors exit the museum to a breathtaking view of the Israel landscape—their inheritance from the Lord—a place God has established for His people.
In addition to the Holocaust History Museum, the Yad Vashem campus has a number of other commemorative sites to visit.
- Hall of Remembrance is the burial site of the victims’ ashes, brought from the concentration camps. An eternal flame burns in tribute.
- Yad Layeled is the children’s memorial, which commemorates the 1.5 million Jewish children who perished in the Holocaust. Recorded voices read the name, age and country of origin of each of the murdered children. It takes about three months to read all the names.
- The Memorial to the Deportees shows a railroad car which hangs over a cliff on the road winding down from the mountain memorializing those who were deported to their untimely death.
- The Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations has over 2,000 trees which were planted in honor of non-Jews who endangered their lives in order to rescue Jews from Nazi persecution.
A trip to Yad Vashem is a moving and meaningful addition to any visit to Israel. Tours are available, but visitors are encouraged to experience the museum at their own pace. Entrance to the museum is for ages 10 and up.