The Holocaust Memorial Ceremony at Yad Mordechai

The holocaust memorial ceremony, which has been held at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai these last 60 years, is the central ceremony in the south of Israel, which marks the end of Holocaust Memorial Day. Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, whose founders were holocaust survivors, symbolises the heroism of the fighters and the rebels in the holocaust, as well as the bravery of the southern settlements, who stood fast against the Arab armies in the War of Independence. The southern settlements are faced again with a tough security reality, as a result of which the ceremony takes on special meaning and new importance, and is held under heavy security.

The ceremony is held at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, named for Mordechai Anielewicz, leader of the Warsaw Ghetto rebellion, and marks the end of the events of Holocaust Memorial Day and allows the residents of the southern settlements a sense of identification, pride and unity. The mere fact that the ceremony is held and that it is attended by such a large crowd are an expression of support for the entire south, and specifically for the settlements surrounding the Gaza strip.

 

The main message of the ceremony is "from holocaust to resurrection". The event is traditionally held under the Mordechai Anielewicz monument and beside the water tower, whose bullet hole-riddled image has become a famous icon in Israel. The ceremony includes a reading of the "Yizkor" and speeches by representatives of the government, the IDF, the Kibbutzes Movement and the holocaust survivors. This is followed by the artistic portion, in which an impressive vision is presented of the story of rebellion and bravery in the holocaust and the message of commemoration, resurrection and revival.

Through this ceremony, the organisers seek to educate the younger generation in the memory of the holocaust, to represent holocaust survivors to the public and to encourage attention and appreciation of the survivors' stories. Alongside the commemoration of the holocaust, the mere fact that the ceremony is held persistently every year sends to the participants and the audience messages of responsibility, activism and social leadership. This central event for all residents of the south acts in connecting authorities and provides a sense of pride and togetherness for local residents.

For years the public personalities and the attending audience were mainly from kibbutz populations, but in recent years a new partnership has been formed with surrounding authority heads, who now recognise the ceremony as a central representing event and more and more participants attend from all settlements in the area, and thus represent the texture of life in the area, as they partake in the living commemoration of the holocaust.

The audience is about five thousand-strong and includes the members of various youth movements, high school pupils from across the country, soldiers of the IDF Southern Command, including officers and cadets, immigrants from reception centres, holocaust survivors and their families – second and third generation, and residents of the neighbouring settlements, as well as citizens from across the country.



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