This year, for the first time, third candle lighting at the official menorah-lighting ceremony at the Western Wall (Kotel) in Israel was dedicated to Holocaust survivors in honor of their re-emergence from darkness into light.
Some 300 Holocaust survivors attended the ceremony at the Western Wall, as did their families and representatives from social services agencies and other organizations that assist survivors.
Also, participating in the ceremony were Minister for Social Equality Gila Gamliel, Rabbi Yitzchak David Grossman, Chief Rabbi of Migdal HaEmek, Claims Conference Executive Vice President Greg Schneider.
“Today is the third candle of Hanukkah, the festival of light and hope, the celebration of renewal and bravery, and raising the standard for the victory of spirit over power, especially here in Jerusalem, the Jewish symbol of longing, eternity and endurance,” said Schneider.
“Tonight, we honor and acknowledge the survivors courage and strength – you who stood up to the Nazi war machine and succeeded. In strength, courage, and by steadfastness and unmatched formidable spirit.”
“When I go back in my mind to those days I cannot understand how we survived,” said 88-year-old Holocaust survivor Pnina Katzir. “We survived because of our strong wish to live, banishing despair and believing that better times would come. ‘Just survive,’ our parents repeatedly told us “and fight for life, every day, hour-by-hour and minute-by minute. We did that and survived and we even revived. We immigrated to Israel and built a home and raised families, and that is our pride and victory.
“We stand here happy and moved, in our People’s holiest place and in Jerusalem that celebrates 50 years of its reunification, and in our country, Israel, that will celebrate 70 years of independence, and I cannot find the words to describe how great the occasion is and what it means to Holocaust survivors, “ she added.
Similar candle-lighting events took place on the third night of Hanukkah in Berlin, hosted by the President of the Bundestag (German parliament) Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble, and in New York City, in honor of Holocaust survivors as part of the Claims Conference’s ongoing work in caring for survivors of the Holocaust and remembering and commemorating its victims.