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Yom Hashoah 2023

Herzog urges Israelis to set disputes aside in ‘sacred days’ honoring survivors

The Israeli president spoke at the opening ceremony for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog speaks at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem as Israel marks Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 17, 2023. Photo by Erik Marmor/Flash90.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog speaks at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem as Israel marks Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 17, 2023. Photo by Erik Marmor/Flash90.

“I appeal to you, citizens of Israel, with a simple prayer: Let us leave these sacred days, which begin tonight and end on Independence Day, above all dispute,” said Israeli President Isaac Herzog. “Let us all come together, as always, in partnership, in grief, in remembrance.”

Herzog spoke at the state opening ceremony for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 2023 at Yad Vashem on April 17.

He referred to the time, culminating with Israel’s 75th Independence Day next week, as one of “majesty, mercy and truth,” during which “we can truly hear the heartbeats of an entire nation, standing before their ‘Days of Awe.’ ”

He cited many of the Nazi atrocities, including the aim to create a museum in France of the extinct and inferior Jewish race. “My sisters and brothers, with human courage and divine assistance, the Allies overcame the forces of tyranny,” he said. “With human courage and Divine assistance, spirit triumphed; the spirit of our people, who raised themselves up with scarred wings from the gruesome depths of the Holocaust. It was this spirit that triumphed.”

Seventy-five years ago, there was a “miracle” of rebirth and of light triumphing over darkness, said Herzog, calling Holocaust survivors heroes of resurrection who “serve us as a source of inspiration and hope. Every day, including now.”

A Holocaust survivor and family member light the torch during a ceremony held at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 17, 2023. Photo by Erik Marmor/Flash90.
A Holocaust survivor and family member light the torch during a ceremony held at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 17, 2023. Photo by Erik Marmor/Flash90.

The Jewish state provides a stable home for Jews, who no longer must depend on others for mercy, said Herzog. He added that the evil of the Nazis and the Holocaust was unique.

“Even in the grips of ferocious disagreements about fate, about destiny, about faith, about values, we must be careful to avoid any comparisons, any equivalences—not

with the Holocaust and not with the Nazis,” he warned.

“At the high point of this sacred day, it seems that even the obvious must be stated: for the Nazi monster, opinions within our nation made not the slightest difference,” he added. “None of the ideologies, beliefs or ways of life—none of the differences or varieties within our people—bore any meaning.”

A ceremony was held at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 17, 2023. Photo by Erik Marmor/Flash90.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center) and his wife, Sara Netanyahu; President Isaac Herzog (to his right) and chairman of Yad Vashem Dani Dayan (to his left) attend a ceremony held at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks annual Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 17, 2023. Photo by Erik Marmor/Flash90.
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