Israel Remembers the Holocaust – Avi’s Father
As the clock strikes 11:00 in the morning in Israel, suddenly, air raid sirens are sounded all around the country for a full minute. People stop whatever it is that they are doing and stand at attention. Cars on the road stop and people stand at attention on the highways. This is Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel. Every year at the same time of year in the Jewish calendar, we stop what we are doing to take a moment to remember the 6 million Jewish lives lost in the Holocaust. We also have ceremonies and activities to honor those who survived this atrocity.
Avi’s father, Nissim was just fifteen when the Nazis signed a peace agreement with Bulgaria taking full control of the country without firing a single shot. Nissim can remember the events as they took place in his hometown of Sofia. “Sometimes they would take the chief Rabbi of Sofia, Rabbi Daniel Zion out from the synagogue and beat him on Friday evenings before Shabbat.” God used this same Rabbi along with the Metropolitan Bishop Stefan to convince the King of Bulgaria not to send any of the Jews of Bulgaria to the Nazi death camps. However, the King was not convinced before some of the Jews from Sofia and the surrounding cities were sent to Bulgarian work camps or simply evicted from their hometown to other cities. Nissim remembers being sent to the city of Plovdiv west of Sofia. On his way to the city, Nissim escaped and helped the partisans who were fighting the Nazis in the surround villages. After WWII was over and Bulgaria was free of Nazi control, Nissim and his brother boarded an illegal ship bound for the British controlled Israel (called Palestine at the time). The British Royal Navy caught his ship, and he was forced into a holding camp in Cyprus. In 1948, after Israel declared her independence, Avi’s father, Nissim, was welcomed to Israel, where he joined his family as they built their new home in the city of Yafo. Within a week of arriving, he was drafted to fight in the Israeli war of Independence going on at the time.
Join us in prayer as we lift up those who have survived the Holocaust. Pray that the Lord would open their eyes to see Him as the loving father who will never leave them nor forsake them and has provided a way through Yeshua to have everlasting peace.
In the evening, a week after Holocaust Remembrance Day, an air raid siren is heard throughout Israel marking the start of Memorial Day for all the soldiers and combatants who were lost in the last 68 years of Israel’s existence as a state. In addition to this rememberance, we also take the time to remember those who were killed by acts of terror. It is a very solemn day with ceremonies held in all the cemeteries throughout the country. During the day soldiers visit the families of the lost soldiers from the units in which they are currently serving. These visits are important because they remind the younger generation of our difficult past with hope of a better future.
Twenty four hours after Memorial Day at sunset, the sky is filled with brilliant colors and the loud booms of fireworks. Celebrations with song and dancing can be heard in every city until late at night. This celebration is the start of Israeli Independence Day. This year Israel celebrated 68 years of independence as a Jewish nation. The following day people hold BBQ’s in every place there is a patch of grass available. Many people go to the beaches to relax, while others go to see the great air and sea show by the IDF. We praise the Lord that he never slumbers nor sleeps and continues to guard Israel from attacks of the enemy by His loving kindness.