Time doesn’t stand still every year on the 27th day of Nissan, but part of Israel does.
On Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, at the annual time established by the Knesset in 1951 to memorialize the Jewish people’s collective losses at the hands of the Nazis, restaurants and entertainment venues are closed, Israeli television carries introspective programming and most Israelis stop whatever they are doing when air-raid sirens sound throughout the land.
Traffic halts, drivers stepping outside their vehicles for an extended moment of silence, and pedestrians stand in place.
At Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial center in Jerusalem, a full day of “Every man has a name” events, with the participation of political leaders and Holocaust survivors, took place.
Elsewhere, the victims of the Final Solution were remembered in various ways.
On Manhattan’s Upper West Side and at commemorations in countless communities, the names of all World War II’s murdered Jews were read, an exercise that stretched over countless hours.
In Washington, D.C., President Obama and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel spoke at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
In Geneva, where a five-day UN-sponsored conference on racism was held this week among charges of anti-Semitism, survivors attended a memorial ceremony.
And at Auschwitz, Ground Zero of the Holocaust, visitors, above and below, including members of the March of the Living groups of teenagers from overseas, provided a tactile reminder with Hebrew songs and the Israeli flag of Jewish continuity.
Following the steps of doomed Holocaust survivors into the death camp, the teens made a statement with their feet, just as Israelis did by standing still.