This year, April 17th marks the beginning of Yom HaShoah, known in America as Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Holocaust Day.
Beginning in 1951, this day-long commemoration was first observed in Israel. The date of remembrance changes yearly, being dependent on the Hebrew calendar. As opposed to the Gregorian calendar, used by the United States and the rest of the Western Hemisphere. This ensures the day is never on a Saturday, a traditional day of rest.
Yom HaShoah is observed on the 27th of Nisan, a day of mourning and fasting. This may fall in either April or May.
On the given date at sundown, there are ceremonies, flags are lowered, and officials give memorial speeches. Holocaust survivors light candles to symbolize the millions of lives lost.
Last year, the Times of Israel reported there were 161,400 Holocaust survivors living in Israel. However, as time moves on there are fewer each day.
At 10:00am the following morning, an air siren will play throughout the Israeli nation. This signals to the community to begin their two minutes of silence and reflection.
No matter where one is, be it out in the street or in a vehicle, people stop to reflect on the history of humanity.
In places outside of Israel, the day is observed on April 19th, to coincide with the anniversary of the month-long Warsaw Ghetto uprising.
Currently in the US, only twenty-three states require public schools to educate on the holocaust. Eleven of which only passed legislation in the past three years requiring so.
Allowing for blasé teaching of one of the most world changing events allows for the same type of hatred that caused it, to fester again.
When people ignore history, and refuse to learn from it, they are doomed to repeat it.
Come this April 17th, please take a moment to reflect on this solemn occasion. If you’re interested in learning more, please read First They Came, by Pastor Martin Niemöller.