Once a year, about two weeks after the Passover Seder, Israel commemorates two huge events, that transformed her modern history.
The holocaust is the first one. Not that we ever forget it throughout the year, but this one day is fully dedicated to the memory of those who were murdered, and the unfathomable torture of those who survived.
It starts on the eve of the 27th day of Nissan. All media is busy with the Holocaust; no other movies or shows are broadcasted, no cinemas or restaurants are open. An entire country mourns.
On the following morning, at 10am, a siren is sounded all over the country. Everybody stops whatever it is they are doing at that moment, and stand still for two minutes.
What you see in the above picture is not the result of an accident. The siren went off, and the drivers simply pulled over, got out of their cars, and in silence expressed their feelings regarding something that words cannot describe anyhow.
Some numbers according to the Central Bureau of Statistics (as of April 2015):
♦ About 189,000 Holocaust survivors live in Israel. 60% are women.
♦ 45,000 of them live below the poverty line. Almost all of them struggle with severe loneliness
♦ About 1,200 die each month. With every passing month, however, this number grows for obvious reasons.
♦ Their average age is 84.
The Holocaust was the most severe form of punishment God had brought upon our nation in modern history. It was not the first time a decree has been issued to annihilate our name from among the nations. Psalm 83 describes it well, providing a long list of the nations that had that in mind in Biblical days. The book of Esther is yet another example of that desire. Hitler did not come up with something new. The only thing new was his loathsome method.
Living among us today, we still have some of those who miraculously survived this scheme. Each one of them is an amazing testimony to God’s promise to revive us from ashes.
Remember Rachel? Well, I now have her permission to share her real name – Rebecca. She is one of them. Against all odds she survived, and in the short clip bellow she shares about one of those moments, in which she looked death in the eye. (For the non-Hebrew speakers among you, our apologies. Right now the clip is in Hebrew only. We are working on the English subtitles which should be ready in a week or so, but we did not want to wait to share this beautiful clip. As soon as we have the revised clip, we will upload it and notify you).
Rebecca is an artist. The picture below shows the footprints left by those who were burnt in the flames. Some did not leave anything behind, except those prints.
You can read more about our work among holocaust survivors at Restoring the brokenness of holocaust survivors.
But this day of mourning is not the end of the story. A week later Israel stands still once more. Read part 2 of this post to learn more about it.