Though Israel’s annual Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorations usually include large ceremonies and events attended by thousands, the somber occasion will be marked this year exclusively in digital format for the first time ever, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In the decades since the massacre of 6 million Jews by the Nazis during World War II, victims have been remembered with symbolic events across the globe, from Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.
At these events, an ever-dwindling population of survivors have been represented, retelling the stories of what they endured, and the families, lives and homes which were stolen from them.
This year, however, strict coronavirus lockdown regulations—which are particularly relevant to the vulnerable elderly population—prevent public events, leading organizers to find ways to continue the traditions and educational efforts associated with Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Beginning on Monday evening, April 20, the customary siren will wail in cities and towns across Israel, allowing all citizens to commemorate Yom Hashoah together. Afterwards, Yad Vashem will stream a pre-recorded ceremony online. The memorial museum is also encouraging the public to visit its website, record themselves reading the names of Holocaust victims and post the video to social media under the hashtags #RememberingFromHome and #ShoahNames.
On Tuesday, March of the Living will hold a virtual memorial online, featuring an address by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.
The Jewish Agency for Israel will run two online events broadcast in eight languages, telling the stories of a selection of survivors and liberators of the camps.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., will be hosting an online commemoration on its Facebook page at 11 a.m. EST on Tuesday.
The website My Jewish Learning published a list of additional online commemorative events in Israel and the United States.
The Tzohar rabbinic organization has encouraged individuals to hold commemorations in their homes by lighting six memorial candles, reciting the “Kel Maleh Rachamim” prayer, and reading the well-known poem Nizkor, “We will remember,” by Vilna Ghetto survivor, partisan and celebrated Israeli poet Abba Kovner.