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Unto Every Person There is a Name

Since 1989 on Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, B’nai B’rith International has been the North American sponsor of “Unto Every Person, There Is a Name” ceremonies.

Participants name the victims and where and when they were born and died. The ceremonies occur on the 27th day of the month of Nissan on the Jewish calendar. These observances, created by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, honor more victims each year, as the project collects more names.

Unto Every Person There is a Name 2012

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, 19 April 2012 – 27 Nissan 5772:


As the Shoah recedes further into history, institutions involved in Holocaust commemoration have encountered a fascinating counter-intuitive phenomenon – increased interest in the Holocaust from groups of all backgrounds and ages. New areas of research and interest are constantly coming to the fore. Modern technology has played an important part in making knowledge about the Holocaust more accessible, but has also provided a vehicle for the mainstreaming of new forms of anti-Semitism – some poorly disguised as anti-Zionism. Still, 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 had the misfortune to be born Jewish. Each of their deaths was a separate, distinct tragedy that together has caused indelible trauma to the Jewish People.

The worldwide Holocaust memorial project “Unto Every Person There is a Name”, now in its twenty-third consecutive year, is a unique project designed to perpetuate the memory of the 6 million, among them one-and-a-half million children, while the world remained silent. We seek to remember them not only as a collective, but rather 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. By personalizing the individual tragedies of the Jewish victims of Nazi Germany and its collaborators, this project 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 deny the Holocaust, universalize this genocide 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.

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.

In Israel, “Unto Every Person There Is A Name” has become an integral part of the official Yom Hashoah commemoration ceremonies, with the central events held at the Knesset and at 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 – 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”.

“My Brother’s Keeper: Jewish Solidarity During the Holocaust” – Central theme for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 5772

Documents and testimonies from the Shoah indicate that within this impossible reality into which Jews were thrust, mutual help and a commitment to the other were actually quite common, and were manifested in varied and surprising ways: members of larger communities taking in refugees from smaller ones; youth movement members who opened communal kitchens and fed the hungry; educators who clandestinely taught children and youth both secular and Jewish teachings; partisans who opened their bases to women and the elderly and protected them; former townspeople who shared the little they managed to get their hands on in the camps; people who collected and distributed food, clothing and religious articles in the ghettos; families who adopted orphaned children. All of these examples indicate that the individual had little chance of survival without the sense of togetherness, and that this Jewish unity – such as the exhausted concentration camp inmate who was held up by two strangers on either side during a selection – is what carried people and helped them endure another day.

Click here to download a PDF with more information on the 2012 theme.
Click here for the 2011 theme information.

Past Program:

Contact Us

For more information about this project, contact the Center for Jewish Identity, 801 Second Avenue, 14th floor, New York, NY 10017, telephone 212-490-3290, fax 212-687-3429, email