History reminds us of not only what has passed, but it also narrates tales of sufferings and victories, and this is why we celebrate Yom HaShoah, which takes place on Nisan 27. If the 27th is adjacent to the Jewish Sabbath, the date shifts by a day. This year, it begins at sunset on April 17 and ends at sunset on April 18. Yom HaShoah is a Holocaust Remembrance Day when Jews from all over the world stop to reflect on the afflictions their ancestors faced. Many of these Jews are direct descendants of Holocaust victims and survivors. Approximately 11 million people died at the hands of Hitler and his followers and out of these 11 million people, 6 million were just Jews. In order to not forget about this important part of history, in 1951, the Israeli parliament ruled that Yom HaShoah be held every year.
History of Yom HaShoah
Yom HaShoah translates to ‘Yom HaShoah Ve-Hagevurah’ in Hebrew, meaning ‘Day of the Remembrance of the Holocaust and Heroism.’ ‘HaShoah’ also translates to ‘whirlwind.’ The day was officially recognized on April 12, 1951, in the Israeli parliament. Falling on the 27th of the month of Nisan on the Jewish calendar, the day comes a week after the Passover holiday.
This Remembrance Day began to be commemorated due to the lack of sympathy Israeli youngsters had towards the Holocaust victims who, according to the youngsters, were taken for slaughter like sheep, without any form of resistance. Once authorities came to know about such views, they made it a point of illuminating the heroes who fought against Hitler and his forces. Stories of bravery and determination began being taught in educational institutions.
From 1951 onwards, people have been honoring the occasion by lighting special wax candles that have the star of David in them. Recognized as a national holiday in Israel, Yom HaShoah also sees Jews visiting synagogues for their holy book recitations and to share stories, etc. On the day, at 10 am, sirens also ring through the streets for 2 minutes, and everyone is required to stop for the entirety of the sirens to remember the Holocaust atrocities. Any vehicles running on roads also stop. Every aspect of life on Yom HaShoah is geared towards the recognition of Jewish heroism and resolve during the hard times of the Holocaust from 1933 to 1945.
Yom HaShoah timeline
Adolf Hitler and his followers start implementing their racist ideals through the persecution of Jews in Germany.
After intensifying persecution operations, Jews start being killed in mass genocides led by Hitler.
Allies storm Germany, rescuing and freeing Jews from their horrendous imprisonment at the hands of Hitler.
Israeli parliament passes a law, which dictates that tribute to Holocaust victims must be paid in public observances.
Yom HaShoah FAQs
Why should I participate in Yom HaShoah?
By honoring the day, you will be educating yourself and others on what happened during the Holocaust. This is a much-needed history lesson that should always be remembered for the various lessons it imparts on inclusion, bravery, and determination.
What are certain things that are always included in Yom HaShoah observance?
The core of Yom HaShoah is the remembrance of Holocaust victims and survivors. No matter how people honor the day, either through lighting David’s candle or solemnly standing during the sirens, one thing always remains, and that is recognizing bravery in the face of racism.
Is Yom HaShoah only relevant to Jewish people?
Yom HaShoah only looks to highlight the Holocaust victims of Nazi Germany. However, the ideologies the day stands for encompasses all of humanity and what it stands for.
How to Observe Yom HaShoah
Stand in solidarity
One of the best ways to observe Yom HaShoah is through showing solidarity to your Jewish friends and loved ones. This day highlights the historical remembrance of the sufferings of Jews and, by standing with them, the spirit of unity will rejoice as that’s where true victory lies.
Learn about Holocaust history
There’s much to unpack when it comes to Hitler’s obsession with “racial hygiene”. He did not only target Jews (although they were the main group to be persecuted), he also went after POCs, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Polish people, etc. At the same time, many people inside and outside of Germany helped save Jews as much as they could.
Say no to racism
Discriminating against someone just because you have a preconceived notion about them is doing great injustice to the human race and diversity — from attacks on Jews in the 20th century to attacks on Muslim people, black people, Asian people, etc. in the 21st century, we still need to go a long way but every step counts.
5 Facts About Racism That Will Blow Your Mind
POC students punished harshly
POC students, especially black students, tend to get harsher punishment in educational institutes as opposed to white students.
POCs suffer more in law systems
Law systems are often deliberately pushed against POCs’ odds.
Racism in medicine
Often tested only on white people, many medicinal procedures and treatments are not appropriate for POCs as medicines can impact a POC differently than a white person.
Skin lightening industry boom
South Asia, for the longest time, has had the biggest markets for skin lightening agents as people believe lighter/fairer skin equates to more opportunities and success in the long run.
Attacks on people from the East
Following the coronavirus pandemic and 9/11, attacks on people from the East have been increasing tremendously, with many believing they are the root of all problems.
Why Yom HaShoah is Important
It’s a reminder of history
Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. And this saying cannot hold any truer for Holocaust Remembrance Day. From all the wrongs that happened, Yom HaShoah promises to always remember but never repeat.
It’s a reminder of determination and bravery
One of the main reasons Yom HaShoah is celebrated is because it pays homage to Jews’ bravery to fight, survive, and live freely. Future generations need to be reminded of these tales and much more.
It’s a reminder of humanity’s unity
When the Jewish genocide was happening, people from all walks of life strove to help in any way they could. Be it Christians or Muslims, these people ensured that Jews were being led to escape routes and/or hidden from authorities’ sight.
Yom HaShoah dates