Senior figures in Israeli politics, in the Rabbinate, and in the IDF spoke about the Shoah (Holocaust) on Monday in honor of Holocaust Memorial Day.
Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin opened the annual Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony in the Knesset on Monday morning. The ceremony, “Each Person Has a Name,” includes the recitation of names of Holocaust victims.
Rivlin read the names of a group of 41 children, ages 3 to 13, who were taken from a shelter in France and sent to concentration camps, where they were murdered.
On Sunday night, Rivlin spoke to the grandchildren of those named Righteous Among the Nations – non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. “Today, as well, there are those preparing the infrastructure for the slaughter of six million Jews... This time, Israel will know how to defend itself, but the lesson we must learn is that fundamentalism is a danger to the entire free world,” he said.
'No longer defenseless'
IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi spoke Sunday at a ceremony at the Massuah International Institute for Holocaust Studies.
"We will not allow our enemies to determine the future of the Jewish people,” Ashkenazi said. “We are witness to waves of anti-Semitism, seeking to complete the Nazis' mission.
"But facing that threat is not a defenseless people, but a thriving state, determined to do whatever is necessary in order to keep the Jewish people safe in their homes,” he said.
Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv-Yafo and the former Chief Rabbi of Israel, spoke to Arutz Sheva's Hebrew-language news service about his thoughts on Holocaust Memorial Day. Rabbi Lau, who survived the Holocaust as a child, said his memories are with him every day, and not only on memorial day.
Rabbi Lau said the lesson we seek to teach must go beyond survival. Survival in and of itself is not the message, he said. “Remaining active in the land of the living, that is the message. The enemy is gone, his supporters are buried, and we are here, raising families. That is the message,” he stated.
Rabbi Lau said he can neither forgive nor forget what happened. “I am not able to forget. And I am not authorized to forgive. On whose behalf can I forgive? On behalf of my father, who died in Treblinka at age 50, next to my 13-year-old brother? My mother died at the end of the war, she was shot to death on the last day of the war. She was 44 years old. When they ask me about forgiveness I ask, in whose name...”
He criticized Israeli governments throughout the years for neglecting Holocaust survivors. Many survivors live in “disgraceful” conditions, Rabbi Lau charged.