One of the more awe-inspiring days on the Israeli calendar is Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom Hashoah in Hebrew), where among other events a siren sounds across the country and crowds of people—and even motorists on the highway—stand at attention for a moment of silence. This year, due to the stay at home orders for the coronavirus pandemic, Holocaust Memorial Day will look quite different—but the Jewish Agency is working to enable people not just in Israel but around the world to still remember the deaths of the six million Jews who perished.
Holocaust survivor Leah Hason—who with her mother were the only ones of her family to make it out of the Holocaust—will share her tragic story on the Jewish Agency Facebook Live page on Monday at 9 PM Israel time in Hebrew with French subtitles and again on Tuesday evening at 10 PM EST in English with Spanish subtitles. Local Jewish Agency emissaries will also present Hason’s story in additional languages, according to a Jewish Agency press release.
“With physical face-to-face encounters put on hold for now, on this Yom Hashoah it is even more important to listen to Holocaust survivors sitting alone in their homes and leverage every means of technology at our disposal to make sure their voices and memories are heard,” Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog said in the press release.
“As we lose more and more Holocaust survivors each year, it is our responsibility to convey the memory of the Holocaust and continue to tell their story from generation to generation.”
Those stories include Hason’s, whose father was taken to a Nazi concentration camp when Leah was just four-years-old. Her father was later murdered at the camp, while Leah and her mother escaped the ghetto and hid in a pig barn and the forest for the duration of the war.
“We were the only ones who survived. Everyone else was murdered. It was an avalanche of death—I saw huge puddles of blood around me. We waited until they were satisfied that no Jew was left alive and it was only then I realized—I no longer have a cousin,” she was quoted by the press release as saying.
After years as refugees following the war, Leah and her mother finally made aliyah (Hebrew for immigration) to Israel the same year the Jewish State declared Independence in 1948.
The virtual event with Hason is jointly conducted by the Jewish Agency’s Shlichut Institute program and the “Zikaron BaSalon” (Memories in the Living Room) Project, which enables Holocaust survivors to pass on their stories from their own living rooms.
In addition to Leah Hason, the virtual event will include a somber song from Israeli singer-songwriter Harel Skaat and Holocaust recollections from Jewish Agency Chairman Herzog. The Herzog Holocaust account comes from the perspective of Isaac’s father Chaim, who was among the British soldiers that liberated the Bergen Belsen concentration camp.
“My father often repeated his experience and how he came face to face with survivors in the camp,” Isaac Herzog said. “To this day, I still remember his words vividly and when I meet Holocaust survivors, many of whom are now living their last days alone in nursing homes, I recall his harrowing experience in Bergen-Belsen.”
This year, while loneliness is tragically a physical reality for so many, the virtual community will remember the world’s most harrowing event together. It may not be crowds standing in a moment of silence, but it might just reach and impact even more.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, April 19, 2020)
The Hebrew broadcast will begin on Monday at 9pm (IST) with this link:
The English broadcast will begin on Tuesday at 8pm (EDT) with this link: