'One Yad Vashem is enough'

PM Binyamin Netanyahu meets with Holocaust survivors before memorial ceremony. 'Our strength is your strength.'

Arutz Sheva staff , | updated: 10:57 PM

Survivors with Netanyahus (C)
Survivors with Netanyahus (C)
Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

On Tuesday night, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Sara Netanyahu met with the six Holocaust survivors who will light the torches at the start of the state ceremony at Yad Vashem Wednesday.

This is the first time that the Prime Minister and his wife have held such a meeting – which was initiated by the latter – with the torch lighters.

The torch lighters arrived with a family member who accompanied them (son, daughter, grandson or granddaughter). The meeting, which was also attended by Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev, was very moving.

"My wife and I are very pleased and moved to meet with you here," the Prime Minister began. "You are sitting in the meeting room of the Government of Israel."

"I think that it is very symbolic and significant that approximately 70 years after the worst disaster to befall our people and humanity as a whole, you, Holocaust survivors, sitting here in the center of the sovereignty of the Jewish People in its new state, in its ancient land," he continued. "This is perhaps more symbolic than anything else."

"I can tell you that I always ask myself, when I hear these stories, what I would have done," he explained. "What would have happened if we and our children were in that situation, and I am always struck by this spirit and this ability to endure the horrors, to survive and, afterwards, to build."

"My mission is one and I always say this when I go to Yad Vashem with senators and presidents and prime ministers: I tell them that I have one mission," he added. "One Yad Vashem is enough. Once. There will never be a second time."

"Today our state is very, very strong," he concluded. "Jew hatred has not disappeared in the past 70 years; today it is directed at the state of the Jews. But the state is very, very strong."

"Our strength is your strength, it is the strength of your lives. It will not happen again."

Sara Netanyahu also spoke.

"It is a great honor for all of us to sit together, to sit with you," she began. "Also as a psychologist, I think that when we talk professionally about traumas and difficult things, it is impossible to include what you endured because not only is it inhuman, it is inconceivable and not found on any scale."

"Therefore, I think that not only are you true heroes of our people, you need to be the guiding lights of our people as we need to go and remember, to remember what Amalek did to us, and in this case the Germans," she continued. "But we need to remember that we must not allow this to happen again, ever, and this is our greatest lesson because there is nobody in the world other than ourselves who will guard us, apart from Him above."

"From our hearts, we hold you in the highest regard, everything you have been through and your families."

Speaking for the survivors was Zehava Roth, who was born in Zywiec Poland in 1935. In 1939, her family and the Jews of the area were concentrated in a ghetto near Cracow. Her mother smuggled her out of the ghetto. By moving from place to place she survived alone.

"I would like to share with you those difficult moments of the separation between mother and daughter, when the mother knows she will never see her again and she tries to give her guidance for life," Roth said. "She told me in Yiddish: 'Don't forget that you are a daughter of Israel, a Jew.' It was as if she was giving me some kind of command to continue to uphold the Jewish People."

"This was my mother's guidance at those chilling moments of separation, when she really knew that what she would say would be for my entire life," she continued. "What they gave me during that terrible period in impossible conditions was for mitzvoth, for life, to be fair and be considerate of others, to be compassionate – this is what they gave me, even though I was seven, a basis for my entire life."

"But truly with divine help, I arrived. I succeeded in having a family – children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, all of them on the straight path. This is a great blessing and comfort."

The six torch lighters told the Prime Minister and his wife their stories of heroism and survival from during the war and their coming to Israel including how they escaped from the trains to Auschwitz and survived the camps and the horrors of the war.