Tonight is Yom HaShoah by Sandra Teplinsky

Holocaust Remembrance Day Candle © 2012 by SLGC is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her;  rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her.” (Isaiah 66:10)

Yom HaShoah

Yom HaShoah, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, begins tonight, the 27th day of the month of Nisan, corresponding to May 5-6, 2024. This year’s theme is “A Lost World: Destruction of Jewish Communities in the Nations.” The topic is intended to serve not only as a sober memorial to the Nazi genocide of the 20th century, but as a prescient warning of what could occur in the 21st.

A special ceremony will be held tonight at Yad V’Shem, Israel’s National Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. This year’s observance takes on new meaning due to the widely acknowledged reality that “never again” is now.

At 10 am Israel time tomorrow, a two minute siren will sound throughout the country. For those 120 seconds, life will come to a standstill, as it does every year. Factories will halt production, motorists stop their vehicles, conversations pause, nonemergency medical care cease, and so on. Silent prayers and cries will ascend to heaven from across the nation. In addition to six million Jewish Holocaust victims, this year we will tearfully remember the slaughtered victims of Hamas, especially those still held hostage.

Tonight and tomorrow, many will pray the traditional Jewish prayer of the bereaved, known as the “Mourners Kaddish.” The word “kaddish” is derived from the Hebrew word meaning “sanctification.” The Mourner’s Kaddish is a declaration of worship and praise to God, not a lament of sorrow and loss. Jewish tradition offers much time and liturgical expression to mourning and weeping in times of bereavement, but I personally love that there is also focus on God’s goodness. The prayer is included here below.

Mourner’s Kaddish Translation: “Glorified and sanctified be God’s great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon; and we say, Amen. May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity. Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that are ever spoken in the world; and we say, Amen. May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us and for all Israel; and we say, Amen. He who creates peace in His celestial heights, may He create peace for us and for all Israel; and we say, Amen.

Please pray God’s comfort and loving embrace on Israel tonight.“‘Comfort, yes, comfort My people,’ says the Lord.” (Isaiah 40:1)

Coming Soon: Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut

Two other national holidays follow shortly after Yom HaShoah. Yom HaZikaron (“Remembrance Day”) is Israel’s Memorial Day, taking place on Iyar 4, corresponding this year to May 13. All Israelis who have fallen in battle, including terror, since the inception of the Jewish state, are remembered in official ceremonies, prayers, and gravesite visits. Nearly every Israeli family has lost at least one of its members due to war or terror, so the depth of national mourning is even greater on Yom HaZikaron than Yom HaShoah.

On Iyar 5, immediately following Yom HaZikaron, we will celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. This year Yom HaAtzmaut occurs on the same Gregorian date as it did when statehood was formally declared on May 14, 1948. The rare coinciding of dates seems to underscore the divine miracle of our re-established existence.

In the past, the national mood has shifted swiftly from grief on Yom HaZikaron to joy on Yom HaAtzmaut. Weeping would endure for a night but joy would come in the morning. This year, however, could be different. Wounds from October 7 are still raw, Israelis are battle weary, war with Hezbollah-Iran looms ahead, and hostages are still being held by Hamas. So while the holiday has in the past been marked by happy family picnics and celebrations that sometimes last all night, this year’s holiday will likely be more subdued.

The Scriptures tell us to weep with those who weep, and to share in the joy of those who rejoice. We thank and honor those of you who will connect to God’s heart for Israel as our people experience the mourning and merriment of this special time of year.

“In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His Presence saved them: in His love and compassion He redeemed them.” (Isaiah 63:9)Holocaust Remembrance Day Candle © 2012 by SLGC is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her.” (Isaiah 66:10)