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Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day 20-21 April 2020

Central theme for this year's commemorative ceremonies and events:

"Rescue by Jews during the Holocaust: Solidarity in a Disintegrating World"

The State Opening Ceremony for Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day will be broadcast at 20:00 on Monday evening,

20 April 2020, via Yad Vashem's website and Facebook page

 

https://youtu.be/DX1W8MvI9ac

(19 April 2020 – Jerusalem) The State Opening Ceremony for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day, which was pre-recorded without an audience in Warsaw Ghetto Square at Yad Vashem on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem, will be broadcast tomorrow, Monday, 20 April 2020 at 20:00 (Israel time). Yad Vashem will transmit the ceremony complete with translation (except for the remarks of the President and Prime Minister) into EnglishFrenchGermanRussian and Spanish on Yad Vashem's website. The feed will also be broadcast via Yad Vashem's Facebook page.

The ceremony will comprise traditional elements, including pre-recorded video remarks by Israel’s President H.E. Mr. Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu. Yad Vashem Council Chairman and Holocaust survivor Rabbi Israel Meir Lau will kindle the Memorial Torch. Naomi Cassuto will speak on behalf of the survivors.

During the ceremony, six torches will be lit, and stories of the six Holocaust survivors will be presented via short videos. First torch: Zohar Arnon; second torch: Aviva Blum-Wachs; third torch: Haim Arbiv; fourth torch: Lea Meream Reuveni; fifth torch: Avraham Carmi; sixth torch: Yehuda Beilis. These videos were produced and directed by Shlomo Hazan, and will be available on the Yad Vashem website in the section dedicated to Holocaust Remembrance Day 2020.

Israeli singers Shiri Maimon and Shai Tzabari will participate in the ceremony, which will also include narrative pieces written by Holocaust survivor Jack Werber, recited by Israeli actor Zohar Straus. The MC for the ceremony will be Danny Cushmaro.

The ceremony will feature a traditional memorial service, including the recitation of a chapter from Psalms by Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi David Lau. The Rishon LeZion, Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef will recite the Kaddish mourner's prayer, and Cantor Daniel Dahan will recite El Maleh Rahamim, the Jewish prayer for the souls of the martyrs.

The State Opening Ceremony will also be broadcast live via Israeli television on Channels 11, 12, 13, 9, 20 and online via Ynet and Walla News, as well as on Kan Radio and Galei Zahal. The ceremony will last about 75 minutes.

In addition to the broadcast of the ceremony, Yad Vashem will upload a special mini-site dedicated to Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day 2020. This mini-site comprises relevant content, including a special online exhibition related to the Central Theme entitled, "Rescue by Jews:  'One for All,'" as well as relevant educational materials.

On the following day, Holocaust Remembrance Day, 21 April 2020, there will be a two-minute siren that will sound across the country at 10:00 (Israel time). On this day, at Yad Vashem, the traditional Wreath-Laying Ceremony will take place in the Warsaw Ghetto Square at the base of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Monument in a different format and without an audience.

 

 Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, was established in 1953. Located in Jerusalem, it is dedicated to Holocaust commemoration, documentation, research and education.

www.yadvashem.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.The Jewish Agency to Host Virtual ‘Zikaron BaSalon’ Events to Commemorate Yom HaShoah

.The events, beginning April 20 at 21:00pm IST in Hebrew and April 21 at 20:00pm EDT in English, will bring Jews around the world together to hear the heart-wrenching story of survivor Leah Hason

.Jerusalem (April 19, 2020) - While official in-person ceremonies are canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak, The Jewish Agency for Israel will host two special virtual Yom HaShoah events, bringing Jews around the world together to hear from Holocaust survivor Leah Hason. Her heartbreaking story will be presented on the organization’s Facebook page and will be broadcast in eight languages as part of The Jewish Agency’s Shlichut Institute program, together with the “Zikaron BaSalon” (Memories in the Living Room) Project. 

The broadcast will conclude with a somber song from Israeli singer-songwriter Harel Skaat. At the end of the program, Jewish Agency Shlichim (emissaries) will hold virtual discussions with their respective communities to discuss the emotional story they just heard. 

Hason’s testimony will be broadcast on Facebook live in Hebrew with French subtitles on Holocaust Remembrance Day Eve (Monday) at 21:00 PM IST. Then on Tuesday, the testimony will be broadcast at 20:00 EDT on The Jewish Agency’s English page with Spanish subtitles. Additionally, as part of the Shlichut Institute program, Jewish Agency shlichim will present the video to their respective communities where it will be translated to Portuguese, Russian, Italian and Greek so world Jewry can appreciate Hasson’s words in their native languages. 

Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog noted that considering today’s climate of isolation - especially among the elderly - hearing testimonies from Holocaust survivors is more important than ever.

“With physical face-to-face encounters put on hold for now, on this Yom Hashoah it is even more important to listen to Holocaust survivors sitting alone in their homes and leverage every means of technology at our disposal to make sure their voices and memories are heard,” he said. “As we lose more and more Holocaust survivors each year, it is our responsibility to convey the memory of the Holocaust and continue to tell their story from generation to generation.”

Of all the members of her immediate family, only Hason and her mother were able to escape Nazi brutality. 

“We were the only ones who survived. Everyone else was murdered. It was an avalanche of death - I saw huge puddles of blood around me. We waited until they were satisfied that no Jew was left alive and it was only then I realized - I no longer have a cousin,” she recalled. 

Hason was only four years old when her father was taken to a concentration camp where he was murdered. Then, together with her mother, the two managed to escape the Jewish ghettos and hid in both a pig barn and desolate forests until the war was over. They were finally rescued by the Russian army in 1945. Hason and her mother then spent three years as refugees until they finally were able to make Aliyah in 1948 and settled in Kibbutz Mizra in Northern Israel.

In the broadcast, Chairman Herzog will also share his own personal connection to the Holocaust. He will discuss how his father (and Israel’s sixth president), Chaim Herzog, was a combat officer in the British Army during WWII. As a young man, the elder Herzog was one of the first soldiers to set foot in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and liberate those imprisoned there. 

“My father often repeated his experience and how he came face to face with survivors in the camp,” Herzog said. “To this day, I still remember his words vividly and when I meet Holocaust survivors, many of whom are now living their last days alone in nursing homes, I recall his harrowing experience in Bergen-Belsen.”

“Zikaron BaSalon” is a social initiative that allows Holocaust survivors to share their stories with subsequent generations from the comfort of a living room. Often, a joint discussion follows the survivor’s testimony. The founder of the initiative, Adi Altschuler, who also launched the Krembo Wings youth movement, was selected to be one of the torch lighters in this year’s Independence Day ceremony. 

The Hebrew broadcast will begin on Monday at 9pm (IST) with this link:

https://bit.ly/3es4ivG

The English broadcast will begin on Tuesday at 8pm (EDT) with this link:

https://www.facebook.com/events/s/remembering-at-home-israels-ho/269948377372300/

Photo: Leah Hason delivers testimony of her harrowing experiences as a Holocaust survivor.

Photo Credit: The Jewish Agency for Israel. 

 

 

 

 

The Holy Fire Ceremony, Kohanim Prayer and Ramadan – Jerusalem Brings the Most Important Prayers of the Religious World to You

 

This year, the month of April includes the main events of the three monotheistic religions - the famous traditional Kohanim priestly blessing, the Holy fire Ceremony and the most important fast in the Muslim world- the Ramadan.

Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus, the flagship events cannot take place in their regular grand scale and the people around the world cannot arrive and participate. Therefore, this year, for the first time in history the city of Jerusalem brings the prayers to you!

 

People from around the world will be able to participate in the events via Jerusalem is Traveling 2U, an interactive platform which brings the excitement of Jerusalem to homes all across the world, including private tours in the streets, museums, culinary experiences and religious events as well. Jerusalem is not waiting for the tourists to return, but brings itself to its tourists. This is the first virtual platform in the world which includes an inside-look into the wide experience of one of the most precious destinations in the world.

The traditional Kohanim priestly (Jewish high priest) blessing, the event in which they bless the Jewish people and all humanity in the midst of the holiday linking the past to the future will take place at 9:00 AM Jerusalem time on April 12th and will be aired via the Jerusalem is Traveling 2U interactive platform from the Western Wall Plaza. Additionally, the site will feature a possibility to purchase a guided tour with an explanation regarding the ceremony from a balcony viewing the Western Wall in the Old City. https://www.explore.itraveljerusalem.com/product-page/live-birkat-cohanim-at-the-kotel

The Holy Fire ceremony from the Holy Sepulchre, where thousands await the miraculous lighting of the Patriarch’s candle from within the tomb, will also be available on the platform. For Orthodox on Saturday 18.04 

You can feel the atmosphere here - https://www.explore.itraveljerusalem.com/product-page/jerusalem-s-holy-fire-ceremony-in-360-video-bbc-news

You are all wellcome

 

 

 

 

Greetings from Tel Aviv!

Hope you're all doing fine, considering this challenging time.

As some of you may know, our beloved city Tel Aviv is celebrating it’s 111th birthday today (the 20th of the Hebrew month of Nisan, corresponding to 11 April 1909)!

To mark the festive occasion we sent a truck to roam the city with the city's unofficial anthem ("Tel Aviv Ya Habibi Tel Aviv!"), asking residents to wave and dance from their balconies.

To see the full clip – see the following link: https://youtu.be/Y_JRwSK0dJU

 

 

 

A Brief History of Tel Aviv

 
 

Tel Aviv was founded on April 11, 1909. On that day, several dozen families gathered on the sand dunes on the beach outside Yafo to allocate plots of land for a new neighborhood they called Ahuzat Bayit, later known as Tel Aviv. As the families could not decide how to allocate the land, they held a lottery to ensure a fair division. Akiva Arieh Weiss, chairman of the lottery committee and one of the prominent figures in the city’s founding, gathered 66 grey seashells and 66 white seashells. Weiss wrote the names of the participants on the white shells and the plot numbers on the grey shells. He paired a white and grey shell, assigning each family a plot, and thus Tel Aviv’s founding families began building the first modern, Hebrew city.

The time was at a peak wave of Jewish immigration – the Second Aliya. Neighborhoods in the ancient port city of Jaffa were becoming overpopulated and crowded. Many of the newcomers were Europeans of middle-class origin who sought to build surroundings that would give them a sense of what they had left behind. They wanted to build a modern suburb of Jaffa.

 
 
 
 

The true development of Tel Aviv took off with the arrival of Scottish urban planner, Sir Patrick Geddes. In response to the unplanned expansion of the city, Geddes was invited by the municipality in 1925 to present a comprehensive master plan for Tel Aviv. In his vision, Tel Aviv was to be a garden city, as foreseen by its founders. His plan called for a clear distinction between main streets, residential streets and vegetation filled pedestrian boulevards. An important element of his plan, reflecting the social climate of the time, was the creation of shared public spaces - in the form of parks and squares, as well as within residential blocks.

The city was again transformed starting in 1932 by a massive wave of immigration of Jews fleeing persecution in Europe whose arrival rapidly expanded a small town of 42,000 people into a flourishing city of 130,000 by 1936. In 1934, in the midst of this wave (the Fifth Aliya), Tel Aviv was declared a city, and Meir Dizengoff, the president of its council, as its first mayor.

The housing needs of this wave of immigration brought the rise of the Bauhaus, or Modern Movement, style of architecture. Many architects trained in the Modern style were among the refugees from Europe who began rapidly building to accommodate the population growth, resulting in what today is known as the White City. Influenced by the clean, functional lines of the Bauhaus School of Art and Design in Germany, they adapted the Modern style to suit Tel Aviv’s culture and climate, giving the city its special look. The White City of Tel Aviv, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, includes over 4,000 buildings in the Modern style.

 
 
 
 

In the 1930's, Tel Aviv became the country’s largest economic center and had the highest concentration of social and cultural institutions. Tel Aviv was the center of the emergence of Hebrew culture and culture in Hebrew – and remains so to this very day. Tel Aviv became known for its modern cafes, hotels, concert halls and nightclubs. The city enjoyed a sense of international chic, which was rare for the region, especially at the time.

At the start of the 1948 War of Independence, the city and its periphery became the focal point of the conflict between Jews and Arabs. The fight over Jaffa's future started immediately after the UN decision for partition. As in other areas where Jewish and Arab forces clashed in close quarters, civilian populations both in Tel Aviv and Jaffa suffered and ultimately many fled. In April 1950, Jaffa was formally merged with the Tel Aviv municipality and a unified city was established - Tel Aviv-Yafo.

The next several of decades maintained the city's status as Israel's cultural and economic center, yet Tel Aviv-Yafo was losing its vibrancy and its population was growing older. This trend changed in the 1980s as a gradual migration from all over the country back to Tel Aviv began. Over the next decades, there was massive renovation and development throughout Tel Aviv-Yafo, giving the city a makeover whose finishing touches are still being improved upon. Tel Aviv-Yafo of today has developed a unique style combining the best of both a relaxed Mediterranean seaside town with an edgy urban vibe. Tel Avivis are passionate about their city and are proud to live in a center of commerce, culture, style and entertainment.

 
 
 
 

With leafy boulevards filled with people at all hours, a thriving business sector, countless charming cafes and restaurants, a beautiful beachfront and rich cultural offerings, the vision of the city’s founders has come alive.

A Brief History of Jaffa (Yafo): Jaffa is one of the oldest port cities in the world. The word Jaffa, which means "the beautiful" is derived from Japhfet, the name of one of Noah's sons' who built it after the Flood.

During the times of King Solomon, Jaffa's port served as a gateway for cedars from Lebanon used to build the First Temple. It was also mentioned in the Old Testament as the port from which Jonah the Prophet embarked on his maritime journey, which resulted in him being swallowed by fish.

Over the years numerous conquerors passed through Jaffa's gates and during the Ottoman Empire it was one of the region's most important ports. In the late 1800's, Jaffa's ancient city wall was completely destroyed and the city expanded out into new areas.


Upon Israeli independence in 1948, Jaffa was a center of local Arab political, cultural and financial activity. In 1950, the Israeli government voted to merge the first Hebrew city and the ancient port city from which it had emerged. In 1999, the municipality founded the Jaffa Development Authority, aimed at improving infrastructure and all aspects of daily life.

 

https://www.facebook.com/TelAvivCityIL

https://visit.tel-aviv.gov.il/

https://twitter.com/TelAviv

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ5I5DfxVraHXGDytOnTqKQ

 

Stay safe,

Be well,

Happy Passover!

 

 Photos & video credit Tel Aviv- Yafo Muni

 

 

Passover marks the exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt, from slavery to freedom. Jews are commanded to tell the story of Passover as if it had happened to them personally and not as a mere historical event, to emphasize the importance of our freedom.​​

 

Passover  begins this year between in Israel at sunset on Wednesday 8 April and ends at sunset on Wednesday 15 April 2019. The first and last days of Passover are legal holidays in Israel. Passover marks the exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt, from slavery to freedom. Jews are commanded to tell the story as if it had happened to them personally and not as a mere historical event, in order to emphasize the importance of our hard-won and precious freedom. 

 

This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, many people may not be able to celebrate the Passover seder with all their loved ones. We invite you to join us virtually and participate in our Facebook Live Seder held by Israel’s Ambassador to Romania David Saranga.​​​

 

 

 

 

Preparations for Passover

The period preceding Passover is marked by extensive preparations and several special ceremonies. The most important of these concerns the removal of hametz, i.e. any food product that contains leavened wheat, oat, barley, rye, or spelt products. In keeping with the Biblical command in Exodus 12:19 and 13:7, Jews will, before Passover, thoroughly clean their homes to remove any crumbs or bits of food, etc. that may be hametz. This cleaning culminates in a ritual candlelight search for hametz in one's home, accompanied by a special blessing and the renunciation of formal ownership over any remaining hametz. The hametz collected during the search is then burned on the morning before Passover. It is also customary to sell one's hametz to a non-Jew – usually by authorizing a rabbi to act as an agent for the sale – as a supplementary measure. While certain types of dishes and utensils can be made kosher for Passover, many Jews will have separate sets of dishes and utensils solely for use during Passover.

In the absence of leaven, Jews will eat specially prepared unleavened bread, or matzah, on Passover. Many Jews will also eat products made with matzah "flour" – unleavened bread that has been finely ground. Matzah dates back to the Exodus, where the Jews, not having had time to wait for dough to rise before leaving Egypt, journeyed into the desert with unleavened bread.

First-born males over 13 are required to fast on the day before Passover – in commemoration of the fact that first-born Jewish males were spared when first-born Egyptian males were killed during the tenth plague – but may be released of this obligation by participating in a special festive meal, such as accompanies the conclusion of study of a tractate of the Talmud or a circumcision, on the morning before Passover.

 

 

The Sabbath before Passover – 4 April this year – is known as “the Great Sabbath,” and is marked by a special reading from Malachi 3:4-24. In the afternoon, it is traditional for rabbis to give special sermons, usually on the laws associated with Passover.

The Seder and the First Day of Passover

On the evening of Wednesday 8 April, after festive evening prayers, families will eat a special ceremonial meal known as the seder, which commemorates the Exodus from Egypt. The guide for the seder is detailed in a book known as the Haggadah, literally "narration," which relates the story of the Exodus from Egypt. A plate placed on the seder table contains several special foods: a roasted egg, symbolizing the special sacrifices which were brought in the Temple; a roasted shank bone, recalling the special Passover lamb offered and eaten in Temple times; a mixture of chopped apples, nuts, wine and cinnamon known as haroset, symbolizing the mortar that the Hebrew slaves in Egypt used to make bricks; sprigs of parsley and lettuce, symbolizing spring; a bitter herb symbolizing the bitterness of slavery; and salt water, recalling the tears shed by the Hebrew slaves in Egypt. Three sheets of matzah – marking the division of the Jewish people into priests, Levites and the general population – are also placed on the table.

During the course of the seder, the Ten Plagues are recalled. When each of the Plagues is mentioned, each participant dips a finger into his/her cup of wine and removes a drop; even though the Jews were oppressed in Egypt, we are reminded that we must not rejoice over the Egyptians' suffering. Our cups of wine cannot thus be full.

One of the more popular seder customs for children concerns the afikoman, a special piece of matzah that is the last food eaten during the seder. The head of the household customarily hides the afikoman somewhere in the house, and the children then search for it. Once found, the afikoman is "ransomed," since the seder cannot continue until the afikoman is eaten. This helps to keep the children focused on the seder and to pique their curiosity regarding the entire Passover epic.

 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown in all Israeli cities, towns and villages, no synagogue services will be held this year, and individual prayers will be held in private homes. 

The Intermediate Days of Passover

The intermediate days of Passover (this year from sunset on Thursday ,9 April until sunset on Tuesday 14, April) are not full public holidays. Schools will remain closed, as will many businesses. Post offices and banks will be open, but will have reduced hours. Newspapers will be published.

Jewish tradition maintains that the parting of the Red Sea and the destruction of the Egyptian army occurred on the seventh day of Passover, but even though Passover celebrates the Exodus from Egypt, Jews nevertheless do not rejoice over the death of the Egyptians in the sea and only an abridged version of Hallel (Psalms 113-118​) – a holiday prayer – is recited after the first day of Passover. 

 

From the evening of Thursday 9 April, Jews will keep a nightly count of the 49 days (seven weeks), until the evening of Thursday 28 May, one day before the holiday of Shavuot. This count commemorates the Temple offering of the omer, or sheaf of new grain, in keeping with the Biblical injunction of Leviticus 23:15-16​.

The Seventh Day of Passover

The celebration of the seventh day of Passover as a full holiday is specified in Exodus 12:16 and Leviticus 23:8. This year, the seventh day begins at sunset on Tuesday,  14 April and lasts until sunset on Wednesday, 15 April. Because of coronavirus restrictins, the festive services and readings in synagogues and special memorial prayers for the departed will not be held on Wednesday morning.

Wednesday 15 April is a full public holiday, i.e. there is no public transportation or newspapers, and shops will be closed. 

Maimouna

Maimouna – an informal, yet widely celebrated holiday which originated among the Jews of North Africa, particularly those from Morocco – is celebrated the day after Passover or the second day after Passover if the last day of Passover falls on a Friday. Accordingly, Maimouna will be celebrated this year beginning at sunset on Thursday, 16 April and lasting until nightfall on Friday, 17 April. The majority of festivities will take place on Thursday evening, 16 April. According to custom, families prepare elaborate tables with various sweets and baked goods, and host friends and family members. Whole neighborhoods often close as celebrations spill out into the streets and parks.

 

This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, many people may not be able to celebrate the Passover seder with all their loved ones. We invite you to join us virtually and participate in our Facebook Live Seder held by Israel’s Ambassador to Romania David Saranga.​

 

Passover in Film

Following are clips from six films (courtesy of the Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive) that depict the various ways in which Passover has been celebrated:

Ideal Travel Talks 1934 – Travelogue shot in Eretz Yisrael in 1934. The film includes rare scenes of Samaritans celebrating Passover on Mt. Gerizim and their high priests sacrificing the paschal lamb in the presence of the British High Commissioner of Palestine, Arthur Wauchope (from 30:55 min). (Note: The Samaritan community will celebrate Passover this year beginning on Thursday evening 18 April.)

Road to Liberty 1946 – Film about the Jewish Brigade which fought in World War II as a unit of the British Army. Includes scenes of Jewish soldiers celebrating the seder in Europe (from 8:03 min.)

To Save One Life 1952 – Docudrama about two sisters who immigrated to Israel from Yemen through Youth Aliyah. Includes scenes of Pesach cleaning, preparations, and seder in a youth village. (from 39:55 min.)

Seder De Pesach 1980s – A Jerusalem family from North African conduct a model Sephardic seder. The film is interspersed with stories and animations depicting the Exodus from Egypt. (French)

Operation Exodus Honors American Troops At A Special Seder In Israel 1991 – American soldiers stationed in Israel participate in a special seder with new immigrants from the CIS and Ethiopia, shortly after the Gulf War.

Our Way: Sarajevo 1993 – The JDC and Jewish leaders in Sarajevo, Bosnia hold a special seder during the civil war in the presence of Moslem and Christian clerics. (from 3:28 min.)

 

 Photos Silvia Golan