Today is Yom HaShoah, a day that remembers the tragedy of the Holocaust and the six million Jews who were murdered as part of the Nazi's systematic extermination of the Jewish people. Yom HaShoah - which means "Day of the Calamity" in Hebrew - was first proposed in 1951 when then Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion suggested a special day to commemorate the Holocaust and prevent the world from forgetting what happened during World War II. Two years later, in 1953, the Knesset designated the 27th of Nissan (a Hebrew month) as Yom Hashoah Ve-Hagevurah - "Day of the Holocaust and the Heroism." This year, the 27th of Nissan was Saturday, April 10th, meaning that Yom HaShoah technically began then at sundown. But because the 11th was a Sunday, Yom HaShoah's official observance has been moved forward to April 12th this year.
In Israel Yom HaShoah is commemorated with an official ceremony at Yad VaShem and a moment of nationwide silence at 10:00AM. At this moment, an air-raid siren sounds for two minutes and everyone in Israel comes to a standstill. Flags are also flown at half-mast.
Yom HaShoah is observed by many communities in the Diaspora as well. In my community there are public remembrance services and many of our teens participate in March of the Living. March of the Living is an international program that brings Jewish teens from all over the world to Poland on Yom Hashoah to march from Auschwitz to Birkenau, the largest concentration camp complex built during World War II. They then travel to Israel to observe Yom HaZikaron, Israel Memorial Day, and Yom Ha'Atzmaut, Israel Independence Day.
I have also heard of a Yom HaShoah seder that is becoming more common. The seder does not involve any food, but rather is a "a unique and moving ritual that combines poetry, song, readings and survivor testimony to reflect on the horrific events of the Holocaust."
How do you remember Yom HaShoah?