Yom HaShoah 5781, Holocaust Day of Remembrance 2021
Updated: May 4
On Yom HaShoah or the Day of Remembrance, we remember and honor the memory of the millions of lives lost in the Holocaust. The holiday takes place on the 27th day of the month of Nisan, a week after the end of Passover and a week before Yom HaZikaron. It marks the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, commemorating the resistance and heroism that countless individuals displayed in the most unbearable of circumstances.
In Israel, Yom HaShoah is commemorated by the entire state hearing the sound of a siren for two minutes. These sirens sound at 10:00 am. For these two minutes of silence, everything stops: cars, buses, classes, meetings, and the nation holds still in reflection and silent devotion. All theaters, pubs, and other forms of public entertainment are closed for the day. In North America, Yom HaShoah is observed with commemoration ceremonies hosted by synagogues and broader Jewish communities. These often include candle lightings, educational programs, and speeches from Holocaust survivors.
When reflecting on the horrors of the Holocaust, one extremely important factor to keep in mind is that these events are not ancient history. Many of our own grandparents and great grandparents actually lived through them, and while black and white pictures and films make it feel like another tragedy in our history books, this was the reality for European Jewry less than a century ago. Now more than ever as antisemitism and hate in general seems to be on a constant rise, we must do our part to tell these stories and remember. There are many ways to maintain a Holocaust education and while none will ever be able to capture the extreme pain and loss, it is important that we do our part and keep learning and having these conversations.
Ways to do this include listening to survivors speak whenever we are given the opportunity. Sadly, survivors will not be around to tell their stories forever, so we must not take that resource for granted but rather listen to their stories and process their wisdom and their message so that we can pass that on to the future generations who are not able to hear them directly. We can go to Holocaust Memorial Museums, located in Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Michigan, New York, and Montreal, as well as in Israel and all over Europe. We can watch movies, documentaries and plays, read books, study the art, and so much more. It can be a mentally and emotionally draining topic to study, but done in moderation, it is so crucial to continue the learning. There are countless ways to do our part in learning to ensure that history never repeats itself and that the millions of lives lost are remembered forever.