Yad Mordechai’s Annual Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony
A Holocaust and Heroism memorial ceremony has been held at Yad Mordechai every year since 1949. This first ceremony marked the first anniversary of the battle at Yad Mordechai and the sixth anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The ceremony at Yad Mordechai is the main ceremony in southern Israel marking the events of Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Day. The kibbutz, which was named after the commander of the Jewish Fighting Organization (Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa – ZOB) during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and the From Holocaust to Revival Museum located on its grounds, symbolize the heroism of the fighters and the rebels during the Holocaust, and the heroism of the Jewish settlements of the south in their stand against the Egyptian army during the War of Independence.
The ceremony’s main message is “From Holocaust to Revival.” The event is traditionally held at the foot of the monument commemorating Mordechai Anielewicz, and beside the water tower, which is riddled with holes from the shells of the Egyptian military and became a well-known icon in Israel. The ceremony includes the reading of Yizkor and speeches by representatives of the Israeli government, the I.D.F., and the kibbutz movement, as well as Holocaust survivors. A later, artistic segment gives impressive expression to the story of the Uprising and the heroism that occurred during the Holocaust, as well as messages of memory, revival, and renewal.
Through the ceremony, we seek to educate the younger generation regarding the memory of the Holocaust, to expose the general public to the stories of Holocaust survivors, and to encourage listening to and appreciating the stories of the survivors and the values they represent. In addition to the memory of the Holocaust, the very fact that the ceremony has been held annually for decades conveys to the participants and the audience messages of taking responsibility, activism, and social leadership, as well as strengthening and supporting the south as a whole, and the settlements of the Gaza Envelope in particular.
Each year, thousands of people take part in the ceremony, including the members of some youth movements, high school students, commanders and soldiers of the I.D.F.’s Southern Command, new immigrants from absorption centers, Holocaust survivors and their families, members of the second and third generation, attendees from the settlements in the area, and many Israeli citizens from all over the country. In recent years, the ceremony has been broadcasted in different countries around the world.
Party to the event are Havatzelet – Cultural and Educational Institutions of Hashomer Hatzair; the World Zionist Organization; Moreshet – the Mordechai Anielewicz Holocaust Study and Research Center at Givat Haviva; Kibbutz Yad Mordechai; and the Yad Mordechai From Holocaust to Revival Museum.