Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorates the lives and heroism of Jewish people who died in the Holocaust.
The day was established by Israel in 1959. It was originally proposed to be commemorated on the 15th of Nisan, the anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising (April 19, 1943), but this was deemed problematic, it being the first day of Pesach (Passover). Instead, the 27th was chosen, being eight days before Yom Ha'atzma'ut, or Israeli Independence Day.
Commemorations range from synagogue services to communal vigils and educational programs. On the eve of Yom HaShoah in Israel, there is a state ceremony at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes Authority. At 10 am on Yom HaShoah, throughout Israel, air-raid sirens are sounded for two minutes. Public transport (including virtually all highway vehicles) comes to a standstill for this period, and people stop and stand silent. During Yom HaShoah, public entertainment and many public establishments in Israel are closed by law. Israeli television and radio channels broadcast mourning songs and documentaries about the Holocaust, without commercials. All flags on public buildings are flown at half-staff.
Also during this day, tens of thousands of Israeli high-school students, and thousands of Jews from around the world, hold a memorial service in Auschwitz, in what became known as The March of the Living, in defiance of the Holocaust Death Marches. This event is endorsed and subsidized by the Israeli Ministry of Education and the Holocaust Claims Conference, and is considered an important part of the academic studies--a culmination of several months of studies on World War II and the Holocaust.
In Ottawa, the Shoah Committee has organized many different Yom Hashoah commemorations over the years from programs featuring talks by a Holocaust survivors, prayers, songs and readings, with special memorial candle-lighting to the viewing of a Holocaust-themed films and guest speakers.
Many thanks to our guest speaker on April 23, 2017
Angela Orosz (biography)
Angela Orosz was seven years of age when asked at school to write her place of birth. She wrote Auschwitz. At the time, she had no idea that Auschwitz, the Nazi extermination camp was one of the most horrific places on earth where thousands of Jews were sent to gas chambers. At the time, Orosz only knew that it was a difficult word to spell.
It wasn’t until she was 11 that she heard the story about her mother, and it took many more years before she could recount the full story of her and her mother.
Her mother, Vera Bein, gave birth to Angela on the top bunk in the barracks of camp C at Auschwitz-Birkenau in December, 1944.
Ms. Bein, who died in 1992, arrived in Auschwitz with her husband on May 25, 1944, when she was three months pregnant. She was separated from her husband before being narrowly spared from the gas chambers; instead she was chosen by Josef Mengele – the infamous Auschwitz doctor who experimented on inmates – for forced labour.
Vera Bein gave birth to Angela on December 21, 1944 weighing just 1kg. Angela was so malnourished that she was too weak to cry which likely saved her life. Five weeks after her birth, Auschwitz was liberated.
On Feburary 26, 2016, in Detmold, western Germany, at 71 years or age, Orosz courageously recounted her story again at the trial of the 94-year-old former SS sergeant, Reinhold Hanning who faced charges for being an accessory to the murder of 170,000 people - the number killed between May 17 and June 12, 1944 when he is known to have been in Auschwitz.
Ms. Orosz is one of several survivors of the 425,000 members of Hungary’s Jewish community who were deported to Auschwitz between May and July 1944, (almost all of whom were exterminated) who attended the trial.