On Sunday night the State of Israel will commemorate the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis by marking the start of Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The state ceremony that is held each year at Yad Vashem will begin at 8 p.m. and will be broadcast live on national television channels and radio. The event will be attended by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Acting President Dalia Itzik, as well as by many ambassadors and dignitaries from around the world.
In response to a caption at the Holocaust Museum that highlights Pope Pius XII’s silence over the murders of Jews during the Holocaust, the Vatican Ambassador to the Holy Land, Monsignor Antonio Franco, initially indicated that he would not be attending the Sunday night commemoration. The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority said that this would be the first time a foreign emissary deliberately did not attend the ceremony.
The Chairman of Yad Vashem, Avner Shalev, sent a letter to the Vatican Ambassador responding to his letter stating he would not attend expressing the fact that to boycott the event would threaten to upset fragile relations between Israel and the Vatican. The Vatican Ambassador has reversed his decision to boycott the event and will be attending the Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration.
As is done every year, during the ceremony six torches will be lit by Holocaust survivors in memory of the six million Jewish victims murdered in the Holocaust. Psalms will be read by the chief rabbis of Israel and the Kaddish, the traditional prayer for the dead, will be recited.
The theme of this year’s ceremony will be “Bearing Witness,” in response to the proclamation of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the Holocaust was a “myth.”
All places of entertainment will be closed on Sunday night and on Monday a two-minute siren will sound at 10 a.m. in honor of the six-million victims of the Holocaust. A series of day-long ceremonies will take place throughout the nation on Monday.