Remembrance and Memory: the Importance of Commemorating Yom HaShoah in Philadelphia

On April 19th, 1943, on the eve of Passover, Jewish inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto began a twenty-seven day uprising against Nazi soldiers. It was the largest, and many have argued the most symbolic, uprising during the Holocaust. The Holocaust, also called the Shoah in Hebrew, was the mass extermination of twelve million people including six million Jews. Other groups were targeted by the Nazis, including disabled men, women, and children, LGBTQ+ individuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Roma and Sinti people and other ethnic groups deemed racially inferior. Fourteen years after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the Israeli Parliament marked the date, the 27th of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar, as Yom HaShoah ve HaGevurah, translated to the “Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust and Heroism.”


In 2002, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Elie Wiesel spoke at the White House at the Days of Remembrance Ceremony. But is there hope? Is there hope in memory? There must be,” Wiesel stated, “Without hope memory would be morbid and sterile. Without memory, hope would be empty of meaning, and above all, empty of gratitude.”


This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Jewish organizations around Philadelphia will hold several events to honor and remember the six million Jewish victims of the Shoah. Continue reading to learn more about each event and how you can commemorate the victims of the Shoah and keep their memories alive. 


– Kaitlyn Arms

Tribe 12  Feinstein Center for American Jewish History Intern


Yom HaShoah Events:


 Six Million Steps – Sunday, April 16th: Join the Israeli American Council (IAC), the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and the Israeli Scouts as they gather as a community and walk in solidarity to the Horwitz-Wasserman Holocaust Memorial Plaza on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. This event is open to everyone. Please click here to learn more about this event and to register.


Philadelphia Holocaust Memorial Ceremony – Sunday, April 16th: Following the Six Million Steps, a memorial service will be held at the Horwitz-Wasserman Holocaust Memorial Plaza to honor the Survivors in our communities, featuring candle lighting, music, readings and prayers. Click here to register and learn more about the event.


Remembrance is Resistance – Tuesday, April 18th: Join the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center (HAMEC) at Congregation Rodeph Shalom for this year’s Yom HaShoah event. Remembrance is Resistance will be a discussion about Holocaust resistance efforts and how remembrance is a form of resistance against modern antisemitism. The evening will feature two brief talks about instances of resistance during the Holocaust, followed by a panel of community leaders and a performance by Avi Wisnia. Ticket prices are a suggested donation. Please only pay what you can! Tickets are limited and sale ends April 17 at 11:59pm. Purchase tickets for the event here.


Family Yom HaShoah Commemoration – Sunday, April 23rd:  Join Tribe 12 intern Kaitlyn, 3G Philly, HAMEC, and the Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation (PHRF) for a Yom HaShoah Family Commemoration at the Horwitz-Wasserman Holocaust Memorial Plaza. This event will include music composed by Cantor Charles Davidson based on poems written by children in the Terezin concentration camp. There will be a musical performance from Zachor Choir and an art activity for families and children inspired by art and poetry from the Holocaust. This event is geared towards 4th-10th graders, although all are welcome. Please click this link if you are interested in attending.  



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