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Israeli high school students pay their respects to Holocaust survivors who fell fighting during Israel's War of Independence in 1948 on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.
Photo Credit to: Tazpit News Agency

Thousands of Israeli Students Mark Memorial Day

By Anav Silverman, April 22, 2012 .

Jerusalem - Thousands of high school students from across Israel participatedin a national walk on Sunday, April 22, from Yad Vashem on the “Connecting Path” to MountHerzl, Israel’s national cemetery, organized by Israel’s Ministry of Education.The students took part in a special school project to commemorate the nation’sHolocaust Day, which took place last Thursday, and its connection to Israel’s MemorialDay for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror, which falls on Wednesday.

During the walk, the students stopped at different stations along the way,learning about the Jewish people’s struggle for survival during the Holocaustand recalling entire Jewish communities wiped out by the systematic statemurder of Nazi Germany’s Adolf Hitler and his partners across Europe. The namesof the 5,000 Jewish communities that were destroyed or barely survived theHolocaust are engraved on 107 stone walls known as the “Valley of Communities”at Yad Vashem. As the high school students passed through, there were many wholooked for the names of cities and towns of grandparents had come from.

“I found the name of my grandfather’s town in Poland,” said Udi Knebel, aneighth grade student at Leyada High School, whose grandfather is a Holocaust survivor.

 “From the Holocaustto Revival” was the theme of the day. Along the path to Mount Herzl, the burialsite of some of Israel’s most well-known leaders and fighters who sought to shapean independent Jewish state, students passed by an original German cattle car givenby Polish authorities that was used to transport Jews to extermination camps. Thestudents also learned about the hollow tree trunk that that provided shelterfor Jakob Silberstein when the Nazis were searching for him in the home of JanaSudova, where he had escaped to during a death march from Auschwitz to Czechoslovakiain January 1945.  Silbersteinlocated the tree trunk many years later and had it brought to Yad Vashem fiveyears ago where it is now on display.

The connection between the Holocaust Remembrance Day and Israel's Memorial Day For Fallen Soldiers was brought to light by the concluding ceremonyheld at Yad Vashem’s memorial site for Holocaust survivors who fought and fellduring Israel’s 1948 Independence Day War. High school student representatives laida wreath of flowers at the sight which was built to commemorate all those who werethe last and surviving members of families killed in the Holocaust, who came toIsrael and died battling Israel’s first war as a young state. 

“These people gave the ultimate sacrifice,” said 18-year old Noi, about toenter the army and one of the guides giving tours to the students on Sunday. “Weare here today thanks in part to those Holocaust survivors who fought to makethis Jewish state happen,” he explained to the students. "They were never able to establish their own homes here in Israel, but they helped create a national home for our people. We must never forgetthem, nor their suffering or their faith in a dream that seemed impossible.”

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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