Prayer candles line a wall at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
Holocaust Remembrance Day is a day during which we can remember the people that suffered and died in one of the world’s greatest atrocities, the purposeful and systematic eradication of an entire people. During the commemorations throughout the day this last Monday, thousands of young Jewish people from Israel and all around the world made a solemn walk between Auschwitz and Birkenau. The locations in Poland are the sites of the deaths of over 430,000 Hungarian Jews who had done nothing but be proud of their heritage when the Nazi party had overtaken Germany and invaded surrounding countries in World War Two from 1939 and 1945.
The march was silent and was started by the blowing of a ram’s horn used in Jewish sacraments called a shofar. When the idea for the walk was first created in 1988, it was originally going to be an event that happened every two years, but its popularity as a way to mark respect for those who died has grown, and now it is now an annual event. Since its conception, almost two hundred thousand Jewish youths have completed the march, and it has greatly increased the awareness amongst the younger generations of Jewish families of what their ancestors or friends’ ancestors underwent in the twentieth century.
In Galilee, the closing ceremonies of Holocaust Remembrance Day occurred at the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum. The title of this year’s ceremony was “They Light the Way for Humankind,” and highlighted the incredible efforts that Holocaust survivors went to to educate people about hope and respect. Many important Israeli officials attended the event, and Holocaust survivors shared their memories as well as lit memorial torches.
In a gesture contradicting some of his Holocaust-denying associates, the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas made a statement recognizing the Holocaust as “the most heinous crime in human history.” Although many of his critics have claimed that this statement was merely a political move to garner more support, it has been accepted by many as an olive branch to the Jewish community. However, some hold concerns over the communion between Abbas’ Fatah political group and the anti-Semitic group Hamas, which calls for the death of all Jewish people. It remains to be seen exactly what, if any, political fall out will occur over his remarks.