“Our commitment must be to remember the victims who perished, respect the survivors still with us, and reaffirm humanity's common aspiration for mutual understanding and justice.”
-- Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust
Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, is Israel's official commemoration for the six million Jews killed during the Holocaust. Yom Hashoah is commemorated on 19 April this year.
Yom Hashoah is officially known as Yom Hazikaron L'shoah U'l'gevurah (Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day). It is a national memorial day and public holiday in Israel, and was inaugurated in 1953 by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi. At 10 AM, sirens sound across Israel and a moment of silence is observed. Ceremonies and services are held at schools, military bases, the various Holocaust commemorative and educational institutions across Israel, and other public institutions and community organizations.
Israel began the observance of Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day with the national ceremony Wednesday night at the Yad Vashem memorial. Yom Hashoah continues through sundown on Thursday. The official Opening Ceremony took place on 18 April, and Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave speeches. Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council, lit the Memorial Torch during the ceremony, in addition to six Holocaust survivors lighting individual torches. On 19 April, top Israeli officials participated in the wreath-laying ceremony and the main memorial ceremony.
The central theme of this year's commemoration is "My Brother's Keeper: Jewish Solidarity During the Holocaust." More information and materials are available on Yad Vashem's website.
The winning poster in the "Designing Memory" competition, an ongoing initiative of Yad Vashem together with the Israel Ministry of Public Diplomacy, was also revealed to coincide with the commemoration of Yom Hashoah. The winning design, created by graphic artist Doriel Rimmer, was selected by a distinguished panel of artists and Holocaust education experts out of almost 200 entries, and is being distributed and displayed across Israel to mark Yom Hashoah 2012.