75 years since the Day of Salvation and Liberation - amid coronavirus

Chief rabbis and leaders of Jewish organizations from twenty countries took part in a prayer of thanks at the Western Wall.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Ceremony at Western Wall
Ceremony at Western Wall
Eli Itkin

The Day of Salvation and Liberation of European Jews from the Nazis (Iyar 26) established in honor of the surrender of Nazi Germany and the liberation of European Jewry, as well as in memory of the soldiers fell in the fight against the Nazis, has been celebrated for the seventh time in Israel and around the world under the guidance of the Council of Rabbis Of Europe.

By tradition, commemorative events dedicated to the Day of Salvation and Liberation began with a collective prayer at the Western Wall, which was led by the Chief rabbi of Tel Aviv and the Chairman of the Council of Elders of the Rabbinical Courts, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, who also told his own story. The member of the Council of Torah Sages rabbi Shimon Baadani, the Chairman of the Council of European Rabbis rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the chief rabbi of France, Chaim Corsia, the chairman of the rabbinical court of London and the head of the permanent commission of the Council of European Rabbis Rabbi Menachem Geleli, the head of the Torat Haim yeshiva in Moscow, Rabbi Moshe Lebel, also participated in the prayer. Minister for Religious Affairs of Israel Yaakov Avitan, the Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Places rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, the rabbi of the Netanya Center Moshe Haim Lau, the Israeli ambassadors to the UN and Russia and the heads of Jewish organizations around the world also took part in the event. The prayer participants thanked the Creator, "who saved us from the hands of the enemy."

In total, about one hundred and fifty chief rabbis and presidents of rabbinical courts from twenty countries of the world took part in the prayer, including Russia, Italy, Germany, Austria, Poland, France, Great Britain, USA, Switzerland, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria, Belgium, Tunisia and Turkey. The prayer participants also asked the Creator to avert the epidemic.

Representatives of the Karlin Chassidim from Pinsk and members of their families, who are in isolation from Purim in the summer camp "Chayka" near Minsk, took a special place during the ceremony.

Earlier in the morning, Rabbi Haim Corsia held a prayer marking the 'Day of Liberation and Rescue' with the participation of about a hundred French rabbis. The rabbis read the Psalms and the cantor raised the Yizkor prayer. The Latvian ambassador to France, who hosted the rabbinical conference, said that the lessons of the Holocaust must be learned and applied every day in Europe's life.

The ceremony at the Western Wall was opened by rabbi Israel Meir Lau who thanked the Lord for saving us for this day, and blessed the initiative of Mr. German Zakharyayev to celebrate the miracle of salvation. "Even after seventy five years I remember well how I was rescued the Buchenwald camp. And I want the world to remember and understand. About eighty years ago the world was divided into four groups. The first one were humiliated killers and collaborators with the Nazi beast. The second were Jews, victims. The world that knew about the “Final solution” and did not do anything to prevent it. And the forth group were those who opposed the Nazi plans. We will never forget the soldiers of the Allies’ armies and the Red Army, which released Auschwitz, as well as about a quarter of a million soldiers, our brothers, Jewish people, who went out and did not return”.

In his greeting to the participants of the rally, the Chief Rabbi of Israel Yitzchak Yosef said that he welcomes and encourages the initiative to organize an annual prayer rally on May 26, to mark the triumph of the spirit over the material. The Nazis wanted to destroy and kill and lo and behold, the world of the Torah rose to its feet and in Israel, all the postcards gathered a world of Torah flourishing and thousands of wise students sitting and thinking in the Torah. Everything that those beasts summoned did not succeed. Although a one-third of our people have been brutally annihilated, the Lord showed pity on the rest of his people”. The rabbi thanked Mr. German Zakharyayev for his initiative and said, that the strength of Jewish people is in the Torah. “Keeping the Sabbath and observing commandments is a real victory over the Nazis”.

Rabbi Goldschmidt said that "The essence of the Jew is thanksgiving. We open our eyes in the morning and the first words are "I thank You." It unites us. We should thank God for the grace of saving and liberating two-thirds of our people, we should thank the Red Army and the armies of Allies and remember a quarter of a million Jewish soldiers who did not return home. For decades there was no opportunity to read Kaddish for their souls. Thanks to Mr. German Zakharyayev now we can raise prayers for them. It is a historical event”.

Rabbi Haim Corsia said in his blessing that 'the surrender agreement of Nazi Germany with the Allies was signed in the school in Reims, France. It was some kind of a message to the world that education is a priority. We must educate our child to study the Holy Torah 'to learn and teach to keep and to do and to sustain'. Rabbi Corsia said that every year he tries to meet with one of the Buchenwald death camp’s survivors. My friend told me that the opposite of love is not hatred but indifference. The secret of life is not to remain indifferent. To build and help between man and friend in terms of 'and your brother will live with you'.

In his first speech as Minister of Religious Services, Rabbi Ya'akov Avitan said that "the remnant of our Temple is the best place to thank God for salvation and to remember the Holocaust victims who have been sacrificed for Kiddush Hashem."

Rabbi Avitan began with the personal story of the Rabbi Lau who wrote about his day of liberation from the Buchenwald camp: "I ask that you understand and feel what we went through when the Americans entered the Buchenwald camp and what is 'liberation and rescue day' for me, when after six years of death we saw only death. A dark tunnel and suddenly the door opened. The light in the room was dazzling. Today we mark the day of liberation and salvation of body and mind from the Nazi beasts. This day was a sing that full salvation is near. It is the description of the fillings of the people who rescued from fire. The salvation of one person and the general salvation of the entire world from the destruction machine that threatened to destroy it.”

"In every generation something threatens to our existence, but God has been saving us. We thank the Council of European Rabbis, the organization that unites the European Jewry. The rabbis, who preserve the Jewish lifestyle in exile, save our people and remind the world about the importance of this day. The government of Israel must be with you and give you the tools to keep the holy work. Get blessings from the Holy Place and the Temple where we can ask for a general salvation for the entire nation of Israel."

White House Representative and the Chairman of the US Heritage Preservation Committee Mr. Paul Packer said President Trump sends a warm greeting to European rabbis and to the initiator of this commemoration day, whom he called "Angel Gabriel." You are working to strengthen everything the Nazis wanted to destroy, to prevent the rise of anti-Semitism and to remind the world of what they did to us and those who rose up against them and subdued them. The United States is the best friend of the Jewish people and we greatly appreciate the rabbis who do not forget and also remember where we are going.”

The rally produced by Rabbi Mordechai Rabinovich Tip Productions was closed with Yizkor Prayer read by world-famous cantor David Weinbach and by the "Congregations of the Holy Communion" in prayer and longing; "and our eyes will return to Zion for pity."

The initiative to celebrate Iyar 26 as the Day of Salvation and Liberation of the Jewish People was put forward by German Zakharyaev, Vice-President of the Russian Jewish Congress and President of the STMEGI International Fund. The number of communities celebrating this memorable date is growing every year. In his address to the participants in the prayer, Mr. Zakharyaev thanked the rabbis of Europe for their support of this initiative and called to remember everyone’s duty to constantly praise the Almighty, to remember his mercy and to increase his glory by prayers, charity, the introduction of the Torah scrolls and the study of its provisions, which corresponds to a centuries-old Jewish tradition. It is noted that this initiative was blessed by many respected rabbis. In particular, on this day, the ceremony of introducing the Torah scroll into the synagogue near the Western Wall and into one of the yeshivah, the students of which read six million michnayot to commemorate the six million killed.

Sergei Novikov, a representative of the Office of the President of Russia, read out congratulations from Vladimir Putin addressed to all Russian Jewry. The congratulatory letter says: “Like the Day of Great Victory, the Day of Salvation and Liberation is a tribute to the unprecedented feat of the soldiers and officers of the Red Army and the armies of the Allied countries, who crushed Nazism, saved the Jewish and other peoples from total extermination. The Russian leader concluded his congratulation in such a way: "I am convinced that both we and future generations must carefully preserve the truth about the war and understand the consequences of any connivance to nationalism, anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia."