Unto Every Person There is a Name - Theme Information
The following is a letter from the International Committee of “Unto Every Person There Is A Name” explaining this year's theme for Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day, April 8, 2013 – 28 Nissan 5773:
The worldwide Holocaust memorial project “Unto Every Person There is a Name”, now in its twenty-fourth consecutive year, is a unique project designed to perpetuate the memory of the Six Million - among them one-and-a-half million Jewish children - while the world remained silent. We seek to remember them not only as a collective, but as individuals – one at a time - through the public recitation of their names on Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day - and thus help to restore their identity and dignity.
The most fundamental feature of the Shoah is the systematic murder of six million innocent Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators for the sole reason that they were born Jewish. Each of their deaths was a separate, distinct tragedy that together has caused indelible trauma to the Jewish People. By personalizing the individual tragedies of the Jewish victims of Nazi Germany and their collaborators, “Unto Every Person There is a Name” counters persistent efforts by enemies of the State of Israel and the Jewish people to deny the reality of the Holocaust and cast it as history’s seminal hoax. “Unto Every Person” also defies attempts to universalize the Holocaust and cast off its principal characteristic as a unique calamity of the Jewish people,
while also building appreciation of the Shoah's tragic impact on the Jewish reality until this very day.
The “Unto Every Person” project also provides an opportunity to recover additional names of Holocaust victims, to reflect on this year’s central theme for Yom Hashoah and to focus attention on contemporary forms of anti-Semitism which continue to plague many countries around the world.
A World-Wide Effort
“Unto Every Person There Is A Name” is conducted around the world in hundreds of Jewish communities through the efforts of four major Jewish organizations: B’nai B’rith International, Nativ, the World Jewish Congress and the World Zionist Organization.
The project is coordinated by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, in consultation with the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and enjoys the official auspices of President of the State of Israel, the Hon. Shimon Peres (see President’s letter, Attachment I).
In Israel, “Unto Every Person There Is A Name” is an integral part of the official Yom Hashoah commemoration ceremonies, with the central events held at the Knesset and Yad Vashem with the participation of elected officials, as well as events throughout the country.
Personalizing the Holocaust
The International Committee of “Unto Every Person There is A Name” takes pride in the fact that its raison d’être – advocating the personalization of the Jewish tragedy of the Holocaust – has gained wide recognition in Israel and around the Jewish world as hundreds of Jewish communities now participate in this project. As time passes and fewer witnesses remain, it is of great importance to create a personal link between the Jewish people today and those who perished under the Nazi genocidal regime. Ceremonies in which names of Holocaust victims are recited - together with such information as age, place of birth and place of death - personalize the tragedy of the Holocaust. Emphasis is thus put on the millions of individuals – men, women
and children - who were lost to the Jewish people, and not solely on the cold intangibility embodied in the term “The Six Million”.
“Defiance and Rebellion during the Holocaust: 70 Years since the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising" - Central theme for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 5773
"It is a necessity… an imperative, due to the historical truth and the legacy that our generation will bequeath to those who will come after us, to speak not only of the loss… but also to reveal, in its fullest scope, the heroic struggle of the people, the community and the individual, during the days of massacre and at the very
epicenters of destruction."
Thus wrote Yitzhak (Antek) Zuckerman, one of the leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, in the early 1950s. Today his words remain a guiding principle as we mark the 70th anniversary of the uprising.
The notions of "defiance" and "rebellion" are fundamentally important to any discussion concerning the Holocaust – and rightly so. In the ghettos and camps, indeed in every place with a Jewish populace and Jewish life, there was some form of protest or resistance to the plot to obliterate the Jewish nation. From flight to hiding, mutual help efforts to educational and creative activities as well as the observance of Jewish rites – even with the scarcest of means and in the most unthinkable conditions – all these acts embodied the relentless struggle of Jewish individuals and communities to counteract the restrictions and dangers raining down upon them – and against all odds, sometimes, to live to see the day of victory.
The most notable armed uprising that took place in the ghettos broke out in Warsaw on the first night of Pesach 5703 (19 April 1943). The revolt took place in reaction to the entry by German troops into the ghetto and on the heels of armed resistance that had been offered the previous January by the ghetto underground. In April, it was apparent that the Germans’ goal was the liquidation of the largest ghetto in occupied Europe as a birthday present for Adolf Hitler. Young Jews, condemned to death by the occupying Germans, organized into two underground networks (the Jewish Combat Organization and the Jewish Military Union) with little means and no outside support. Along with members of the undergrounds, all of the surviving Jews in the ghetto resisted the enemy in order to defy their murderers, although they knew they had little chance of survival. These 50,000 Jews, left in the ghetto following mass death by disease and starvation and the deportation of 265,000 men, women and children to Treblinka, took to defense in the bunkers, and fought with utmost courage and resolve. They put up the bravest of resistance for almost a month, until they were brutally suppressed.
(For more information on this year’s theme and texts that can be used in ceremonies, please see attachment II)
Contemporary Forms of Anti-Semitism
“Unto Every Person there is a Name” ceremonies also provide an important opportunity to focus attention on contemporary forms of anti-Semitism that continue to plague many countries including those in which some of the worst atrocities of the Holocaust occurred, and much of the Arab world.
The annual report by the Israel Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs on events and trends in anti-Semitism released in January 2013, notes that 2012 saw an escalation in violence directed against Jews around the world. While the murder of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler and three children, including two of his own, at the Otsar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse, France by Islamist terrorist Mohammed Merah in March shocked the world, other anti-Semitic events of various natures affected Jews and Jewish communities in Europe, North America, Australia and Latin America in the course of the year (for further information see attachment III)
Expanded Global Activity to Recover Names of Shoah Victims
“Unto Every Person There is a Name” events provide a unique opportunity to continue the quest to collect the names of all the Jews who perished in the Holocaust.
Since its inception, one of Yad Vashem's central missions has been the attempt to recover the name and personal story of each and every victim of the Shoah. While the Germans sought not only to destroy the Jews but also to obliterate any memory of them, The Shoah Victims’ Names Recovery Project realizes our moral imperative to remember each victim as a human being, and not merely a number.
The relentless endeavor has to date identified over four million names of Shoah victims, documented in the Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names online at: www.yadvashem.org. Roughly half of the victims' names in the database were derived from various archival sources and postwar commemoration projects. The
other half are recorded on "Pages of Testimony" submitted by relatives and others who knew of the victims.
The entire online Names Database, where one may access the victims’ brief histories and, when available, photographs, and submit additional names, is available in English, Hebrew and Russian. Millions of victims’ names are still missing, it is incumbent upon us today, to recover them before the generation that remembers is no longer with us. “Unto Every Person” ceremonies should be utilized to call upon members of your community to complete a “Page of Testimony” for each unregistered victim, or to volunteer to assist others with this urgent task. (See Attachment IV for further details).
Recitation ceremony planning recommendations
1. Outreach: The International Committee urges organizers of “Unto Every Person” ceremonies to invite all Jewish organizations and institutions in their community, including schools, synagogues of the various streams and community centers, and Israeli diplomatic representatives, to take an active part in the name recitation ceremonies and in the Names Recovery Campaign. The Committee specifically requests that the four sponsoring organizations be actively engaged in each ceremony and that all local agencies cooperate to make the ceremony as inclusive and meaningful as possible. The Committee also recommends that non-Jewish groups and leaders in the larger community be invited to participate in the recitation ceremonies, which can be held in an appropriate public setting.
2. Press: Local and national media, especially television, should be encouraged to cover the ceremonies. Any visual products from the ceremony should be sent to Yad Vashem in order to be archived and exhibited in the future.
3. Family names retrieval: We urge you to encourage members of your community to search for names of relatives and friends who were victims of the Holocaust, to compile your own personal and local lists of names and family members for commemoration, and to submit names to Yad Vashem's Database (see above).
4. Names recovery campaign: Should you choose to utilize the ceremony to kick-off a names recovery campaign, please refer to Yad Vashem’s Community Outreach Guide for new resources. Packed with tips and materials, including short movie clips and print-quality files of promotional materials, this resource will enable Jewish communities and educators to plan and implement meaningful programs, names collection events and related activities around Yom Hashoah and throughout the year.
5. Ceremony requirements: The recitation ceremonies require coordination and planning but involve very little expenditure. Basic requirements for the ceremony are:* Poem “Unto Every Person There Is A Name” by Israeli poet Zelda (Attachment V)
* Lists of names
A unique list of names of Holocaust victims from the Warsaw Ghetto and other ghettos is available for use in Attachment VI. Other lists are available on-line here:
* Pages of Testimony
*Yizkor and El Maleh Rahamim prayer texts - available in Hebrew
* Six Yizkor candles
* A sound system
* Professional-standard video equipment.
* A table or podium covered in black
* Sufficient volunteers to recite names
* Master of Ceremonies
6. Central Ceremony at Yad Vashem: The central State ceremony marking the beginning of Yom Hashoah will take place at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on Sunday, April 7 at 20:00 (8 p.m.) Israel time. The ceremony is broadcast live on Israel’s Channel One, accessible via the internet, which might allow you to incorporate it into
your own ceremony. Furthermore, the ceremony will be available on-line on the Yad Vashem website within 2 hours after it concludes. The recording could be utilized as an element in your own ceremony.
We are available to answer any questions that might arise and provide additional material as necessary to ensure the success of your event.
> Click here to download a PDF with more information on the 2013 theme.
> Click here for the 2012 theme information.
> Click here for the 2011 theme information.
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