A History Of The Holocaust
A History Of The Holocaust
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Holocaust Remembrance Day Proclamation
A History Of The Holocaust

The members of Living Springs recognize the Holocaust as an important event in history. We grieve the loss of over six million Jewish lives, as well as others, taken during the Holocaust. We stand in recognition of the great price paid to halt the regime responsible for these events.

We recognize and denounce calls for the destruction of the nation of Israel and the Jewish people. We stand firm against the continuing international trend to erode the sovereignty of Israel and the identity of the Jewish people.

We are grateful for the leadership the nation of Israel has and continues to provide, as well as the sacrifices they have made in the fight against terrorism, which threatens us all.

May God bless the Jewish people as they exercise their right to return to the land God gave them. For the good of all, may the world never repeat, and always remember, the tragedy of the Holocaust.

Holocaust Remembrance Day

April 24, 2017

Jewish Year 5777

Yom Ha-Shoah is a shortening from Yom Ha-Shoah Ve Hagevurah which means, "Devastation and Heroism Day" in Hebrew. In Israel the day was made a national public holiday in 1959, and in America we know the day as Holocaust Remembrance Day!

Holocaust Remembrance Day is a day that has been set aside for remembering the victims of the Holocaust and for reminding Americans of what can happen to civilized people when bigotry, hatred and indifference reign. The United States Holocaust Memorial Council, created by act of Congress in 1980, was mandated to lead the nation in civic commemorations and to encourage appropriate Remembrance observances throughout the country. Observances and Remembrance activities can occur during the week of Remembrance that runs from the Sunday before through the Sunday after the actual date.

Year 27th of Nisan Date for Yom Ha-Shoah
2014 Sunday, April 27 Monday, April 28
2015 Thursday, April 16 Thursday, April 16
2016 Thursday, May 5 Thursday, May 5
2017 Sunday, April 23 Monday, April 24
2018 Thursday, April 12 Thursday, April 12
2019 Thursday, May 2 Thursday, May 2
2020 Tuesday, April 21 Tuesday, April 21
2021 Friday, April 9 Thursday, April 8
2022 Thursday, April 28 Thursday, April 28

While there are obvious religious aspects to such a day, it is not a religious observance as such. The internationally-recognized date comes from the Hebrew calendar and corresponds to the 27th day of Nisan on that calendar. That is the date on which Israel commemorates the victims of the Holocaust. When the actual date of Yom Ha-Shoah falls on a Friday (as will happen in 2021) the state of Israel, following the Knesset legislation establishing the event, observes Yom Ha-Shoah on the preceding Thursday. When it falls on a Sunday (as happened in 2014), Yom Ha-Shoah observances happen on the following Monday. In 1961 a law was passed in Israel which closed all public entertainment on Yom Ha-Shoah, and at ten in the morning, a siren is sounded. Everyone stops what they are doing, people pull over in their cars, and all stand in remembrance of the over 6,000,000 Jewish victims as well as other murdered during the Holocaust!

"While not all victims were Jews, all Jews were victims."
Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel

2017 Torchlighters

Each year six torches are lit in memory of the six million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust. Their wartime experiences reflect the central theme chosen by Yad Vashem for Holocaust Remembrance Day. The torches are lit during the central memorial ceremony held at Yad Vashem on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Elka Abramovitz

Elka Reines-Abramovitz was born in 1932 in Novoselitsa, northern Bessarabia, Romania (now Ukraine) to Shimon, a leatherworker, and Frida. Her parents gave their three children a Jewish and Zionist education.

On 7 July 1941 the Romanian Army entered Novoselitsa. "They shot people and burned houses. My father was beaten with a rod," Elka recalled. "For the first time in my life I saw dead people, masses of bodies lying by the road. The images are seared into my mind."

On 27 July, the Romanians ordered the town's Jewish inhabitants to leave for Transnistria. Elka and her family went on foot. "We walked endlessly," said Elka. "We drank water from puddles. If we found corn or sugar beets, it was a godsend. But the family was together. The bigger ones carried the smaller ones on their backs."

Romanian soldiers standing on the bridge over the Dniester River threw numerous deportees into the river and shot them. The remainder was sent to the Edineti ghetto, where many died of hunger and disease. The survivors continued onwards to Yampol, and from there to Kosharintsy in Transnistria. "They crammed us into three stables. It was a very cold winter," said Elka. "They gave us no food or water. People died every day."

Shimon worked in the fields for the local farmers, but Frida soon fell ill and died, along with Elka's grandfather, grandmother and two cousins. Within a year, only 70 out of 480 people remained.

Shimon's expertise was recognized by the locals and the family moved to a house in one of their gardens. "That saved our lives," said Elka. "My father carried me there on his back because I could no longer walk. After ten months, I started walking again."

In March 1944, the Red Army reached Transnistria and Shimon was conscripted. After his discharge in September 1945, he and the children returned to Romania. Elka was sent to a Jewish orphanage in Cluj.

Elka and her sister Ester joined the Habonim Dror youth movement and sailed for Eretz Israel (Mandatory Palestine) aboard the Pan York in December 1947. After detention by the British in Cyprus, they reached Eretz Israel in March 1948.

Elka remains active in a Holocaust remembrance organization, and assists the families of fallen IDF soldiers.

Elka and Arie z"l , a native of Tel Aviv, have three children, ten grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

Moshe Ha-Elion

Moshe Ha-Elion was born in Thessaloniki, Greece in 1925 to Rachel and Eliahu.

A few days after the start of the German occupation in April 1941, Eliahu passed away. Moshe, Rachel and his sister Esther-Nina were deported to Auschwitz in cattle cars. While he performed various forms of labor and survived several selections, Moshe's entire family was murdered in the death camp.

In October 1943, Thessaloniki native Jacob "Jakito" Maestro, who worked in the SS employment service, helped Moshe enroll as a trainee in the camp's school for construction workers. In mid-1944, Binio Mijan, another friend from Thessaloniki, helped rescue him from penal labor after he was caught with a letter to a female prisoner. In January 1945, Moshe and Binio trudged together on the death march, helping each other until they reached Mauthausen. Moshe was later transferred to Melk and Ebensee.

On 6 May 1945, "Makeshift flags of the different countries of origin of the camp's prisoners began to appear. There were more than 100 of us from Greece, Jews and Christians. Suddenly people burst into song, singing the Greek anthem," recalls Moshe. "Then I ran into a prisoner who was shouting in Yiddish, 'Jews, Jews!' He pointed to a group of prisoners, which began slowly and devotedly to sing 'Hatikva.' I sang with them. There was no flag there. The lyrics were sung with Sephardic and Ashkenazic pronunciation, and not everyone sang, but the tune was almost uniform."

Moshe set off for Greece, but while he was in Italy he decided to immigrate to Eretz Israel. In June 1946, he arrived aboard the Josiah Wedgwood. He was wounded during the War of Independence, and then served as a career soldier for 20 years before moving on to work in the security service. Moshe has dedicated his life to supporting needy Holocaust survivors, commemorating Greek Jewry and fighting Holocaust denial. For 15 years, he was Chairman of the Association of Survivors of Concentration Camps of Greek Origin Living in Israel. He was a member of the International Auschwitz Committee, the Yad Vashem Directorate, and the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel. He is currently the acting Chair of the Centre of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel.

Moshe wrote his autobiography and three books of poetry. He also set one of them, written in memory of his younger sister Nina, to music. Moshe shares his testimony in Hebrew, Greek, Ladino, French and English, and joins military and school delegations on their visits to Poland.

Moshe and Hana z"l have a son and daughter, six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Moshe Jakubowitz

Moshe Jakubowitz was born in Warsaw in 1929 to a Hasidic family, the eldest of three brothers. His father, Jacov-Arie (Leib), worked in agriculture and marketing crops, and his mother Hava ran a grocery store across from the family home. Moshe went to the Tarbut school, where he learned general and Jewish studies.

After the Germans established the Warsaw ghetto, Moshe continued his studies privately, and celebrated his Bar Mitzvah in the ghetto on Simchat Torah. On the eve of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in April 1943, the adults prepared hiding places in the basement. "During the Passover seder, we heard gunfire. We went down to the bunker and stayed there for seven days, until the Germans started burning down the ghetto," said Moshe. "We had no choice. We came out with our hands up. They led us to the Umschlagplatz. On that day, 24 April 1943, my father was murdered."

Moshe was sent to Majdanek with his mother, two brothers and grandfather. "My mother heard that they were looking for workers, and she urged me to go with my grandfather. I never saw her or my brothers again." Moshe and his grandfather were sent to a labor camp not far from Lublin, where they chopped trees and built houses. One day, Moshe's grandfather was taken by truck to the forest along with other workers and shot to death.

In late 1943, Moshe was transferred to the Mielec concentration camp and put to work in a factory that manufactured cargo planes. The letters "KL"-the German acronym for concentration camp-were tattooed on his arm. He was transferred from Mielec to work in the salt mines of Wieliczka and then to Flossenbürg, Germany, where he worked in an aircraft factory.

During a death march towards Dachau, Moshe managed to slip away and link up with American liberators. Although he received papers allowing him to immigrate to the US, in 1946 David Ben-Gurion came to Frankfurt. "It was close to our camp and I went to hear him. He spoke in Yiddish. I decided to move to Eretz Israel."

After detention in Cyprus by the British, Moshe finally reached Eretz Israel in April 1948. He fought as part of the Irgun, and later in the IDF during the War of Independence. In civilian life, Moshe became a construction manager.

Moshe and Zipora z"l have three children, eight grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.

Moshe Porat

Moshe Porat (né Frisch) was born in 1931 in Hajdúnánás in southeastern Hungary to Jozsef Levy and Gizella-Naomi - an observant Hasidic family of seven.

In March 1944, the Germans occupied Hungary. Jozsef was taken away for forced labor on the first day of Passover that year. On 19 May 1944, while he was home on leave, he took a pair of scissors and silently cut the sidecurls off all four of his sons. "He wanted to do it himself rather than let the Germans do it," Moshe recalls. A few days later, Jozsef reported back to the Hungarian Army, never to return.

By the end of May, a ghetto was established in the city. The men were sent to forced labor, and the community was left with only women, children and the elderly. On 17 June, the ghetto's inhabitants were deported in cattle cars to Debrecen, where they were concentrated in a brick factory.

Moshe observed his Bar Mitzvah on 21 June 1944. "I took my new set of tefillin (phylacteries), which my father had bought me during his last leave, out of my backpack. I concealed them in my shirt and my uncle led me to a hidden nook. Other worshippers were congregating in the nook, and I read from the Torah."

Days later, the Frisch family was forced onto a train for deportation. The train was bombed by the Allies and stopped on the tracks for many days. Many of the deportees died of suffocation, hunger and thirst, including Moshe's great-grandmother. When the train finally reached Vienna, they were transferred to a labor camp. Moshe's older brother, Shevah, was sent to a different camp and murdered.

As the Red Army drew near, the prisoners were sent on a death march. Moshe's mother and older sister Pnina took turns carrying Dani, his frail eight-year-old brother, on their shoulders. After three weeks, the survivors reached Mauthausen, where Moshe and his brothers Asher and Dani were separated from Gizelle and Pnina and sent to forced labor. On 5 May 1945, they were liberated by the US Army. Gizelle died two weeks later.

After first returning home, Moshe made his way to Austria and Italy, and in the summer of 1948, he reached Israel. He helped found a garin (core group of settlers) in Kibbutz Shluhot and wrote his autobiography. Today he lectures and gives testimony about his experiences during the Holocaust and accompanies youth delegations to Poland.

Moshe and Tova-Gita z"l have four daughters, 15 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Max Privler

Max Privler was born in 1931 in the village of Mikulichin in Poland (now Ukraine) to David and Malka. He was the second of four children. The family owned land, factories, shops, and even a school and a synagogue.

In June 1941, the Germans occupied the region and the family's property was confiscated. In March 1942, Gestapo men and Ukrainian police broke into Max's family's home and took Max and David to the police station. Malka and her younger children were sent to the Stanislawow ghetto. The next day, Max and David were brought to the forest with a group of Jews. A second before they were shot, David pushed Max into the killing pit, and was shot on top of him. One bullet lodged itself into Max's shoulder and remained there for over 25 years. Max managed to climb out of the pit at night and fled to the home of the Boyuk-Nimchuk family, Ukrainian friends, who hid him.

One day, Max snuck into the ghetto with some food for his family and saw Malka fighting a Gestapo man, who was pulling her baby from her arms. He witnessed his mother being hanged and his baby brother murdered by the Germans.

On another occasion, Max was caught and sent to work in the family factory. After six months, the child laborers, including Max, were trucked to the forest to be executed. Max managed to flee to the adjacent forest, where he joined a group of partisans.

When Max suffered from frostbite, a passing doctor sent him with a partisan commander who was headed to Moscow for treatment. After he had recuperated, Max enlisted in the Red Army and was sent to a school training children to perform military operations. His mastery of five languages - Polish, Czech, German, Ukrainian and Russian - was an asset.

Max commanded a platoon that conducted intelligence and sabotage, and helped liberate Kraków and Auschwitz. However, he sustained serious injuries in the battles to liberate Prague. He was buried under the rubble of a building that had collapsed, with an iron rod lodged in his head. He was pulled out and hospitalized, but remained unconscious for months until he recovered.

After the war, Max lived in Ukraine. He immigrated to Israel in 1990. He remains active in the Association of Disabled Veterans of the War against Nazism as well as the commemoration of children who served in the Red Army during WWII, and is the author of several books on the subject.

Max and Muza z"l have two children, five grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.


Jeannine Sebbane-Bouhanna was born in 1929 in Nemours (now Ghazaouet), Algeria, to Jacob and Rahma. She was the fourth of six children. Jacob, who had fought in the French Army in WWI, was a carpenter by profession.

In 1938, the family immigrated to Paris and settled at 43 rue Vieille du Temple in Le Marais (fourth district). They lived among relatives, and maintained a traditional Jewish lifestyle. Jeannine and her family were full French citizens and spoke the language accent-free, in stark contrast to their Eastern European immigrant neighbors.

In May 1940, the Germans occupied France, and Jeannine's father and older brother passed away a year later. Her mother smuggled her older sister and brother, Odette and Maurice, into the free zone of southern France, while Jeannine stayed in Paris and helped provide for the family. She took trains around the city while wearing the yellow star, standing in long lines at the bakeries and grocery stores while Rahma watched her three younger siblings at home.

On 16 July 1942 (the date of La Rafle du Vel d'Hiv, the roundup of the Jews of Paris), French gendarmes raided the arrondissement. Jeannine and her family avoided arrest that day because they had French citizenship, but their close friends and neighbors were taken away. They went to the police station with food for their neighbors, and witnessed their detention and deportation to concentration camps.

Two of the neighbors' daughters hid in Jeannine's home. Jeannine and Rahma brought the two girls food and drink every night for over a week, despite the risk that the building's concierge would find out and turn them in. Rahma then helped smuggle them to the unoccupied zone in southern France, and they survived.

Jeannine's family received letters from their neighbors who had been detained in concentration camps in France before being deported to their deaths. They tried to aid the detainees with food packages, and for decades they kept the deportees' letters, which documented the detention camps and the deportations to the east - rare Holocaust-era testimony.

When Jeannine's brother Maurice returned to Paris to help the family, he was captured, deported to Sobibor and murdered. Jeannine and her three younger siblings were hidden by farmers in a village outside Paris, and in 1944 they fled to southern France, where they survived in a small village with the help of her older sister Odette's husband.

After the war, Jeannine married Lucien Bouhanna in Algeria. They returned to France, and followed their children to Israel in 1992.

Jeannine and Lucien have five children, 12 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.

Read about past years' Torchlighters

Torchlighters pictures and bios courtesy of Yad Vashem The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority.

A History Of The Holocaust

If you would like to make a donation to help Jews still suffering from anti-Semitism and poverty today, you can do so by visiting www.ifcj.org THANK YOU!

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