Yom HaShoah

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Yom HaShoah, whose full name is Yom HaShoah V’HaGevurah, meaning the Day of the Holocaust and Heroism, is one of the more recent holidays added to the Jewish calendar. In many Jewish communities around the world, Yom HaShoah has become the primary Holocaust memorial day.

The Knesset, or Israeli parliament, passed the resolution creating Yom HaShoah in 1951. The 27th of Nisan (April or May) was chosen because it loosely corresponded to the beginning of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising on Erev (evening of) Passover, the 14th of Nisan. However, because observing Yom HaShoah on that day would interfere with the preparations for Passover, it was not seriously considered as a potential national memorial day.

Many customs have become associated with the observance of Yom HaShoah in Israel. A two minute siren is heard twice during the day. Various ceremonies are held by schools and youth groups, and there is a state ceremony at Yad VaShem, the Israeli Holocaust Memorial and Museum. Other rituals include hearing testimony from survivors, lighting memorial (yahrzeit) candles, reading the names of the deceased and wearing white.