Yom HaShoah: Holocaust Remembrance Day

Question

What is “Holocaust Remembrance Day” and when is it this year?

4 months

Answers

  1. The official date for “Holocaust Remembrance Day” — “Yom HaShoah” in Hebrew — is the 27th day of the Jewish month of Nissan. It commemorates the millions of Jewish people who were murdered during the Holocaust.

    This year, 2019, it is observed on Thursday the 27th of Nissan, which is on May 2nd. (On other years, if this date is in conflict with Shabbat, the commemoration is set on a different day of the week to avoid Shabbat desecration.)

    The main observances are a memorial ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, sirens in the evening and morning followed by a moment of silence for introspection, and closure of all places of entertainment in Israel from Wednesday evening until Thursday night. Special programs about the Holocaust are aired throughout the day.

    It is important to note that although this date was chosen by the Israeli Knesset in 1951, a different date was chosen by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel in 1949, two years earlier. The Chief Rabbinate selected the 10th day of the month of Tevet as “Yom HaKaddish HaKlali” — a day of remembrance and saying Kaddish for all whose date of death is unknown.

    There are two main reasons for the Chief Rabbinate’s preferred date. First, the 10th of Tevet has traditionally been a day of national morning for many tragedies throughout history, beginning with the siege on Jerusalem and the First Temple by the ancient Babylonians. It is a day of fasting and reciting special prayers, reciting Psalms, giving charity, learning Mishna and taking time for introspection on how to improve as individuals and a nation. By remembering our past we honor our ancestors and hopefully gain a better perspective for a brighter future. And a second reason for the Tevet date is to avoid a sad memorial event during the happy month when Passover is celebrated.

    Although we remember and commemorate the past, may we merit knowing no more sorrow, and sharing in only happy occasions together.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team