Yom HaShoah is Holocaust Remembrance Day for the Jewish community, and it honors the 6 million Jews who lost their lives during the Holocaust. In 2020, Yom HaShoah is commemorated on April 21. On the Hebrew Calendar, this corresponds to the 27th day of the month of Nisan.
In the United States, Yom HaShoah is not a public holiday, so businesses and schools remain open.
In Israel, the first Holocaust Remembrance Day was commemorated on December 28, 1949, as the day fell on the 10th of the month of Tevet which, in the Hebrew Calendar, is a day dedicated to mourning. For the observance, the remains of Jews who had lost their lives in concentration camps in Europe were brought to and given proper burials in Jerusalem. The same happened the following year, in December of 1950.
On April 12, 1951, the Israeli Parliament, known as Knesset, established the holiday Yom Hazikaron HaShoah ve-laG'vurah to be observed on the 27th of Nisan, one week after Passover, after debating on many significant dates for the Jewish community. Even though the holiday was established by the Israeli government, Jewish communities around the world commemorate the day.
The first official Yom HaShoah commemoration then took place on May 3, 1951, at the Chamber of the Holocaust on Mount Zion.
How it is Celebrated
In the United States, people of Jewish faith and ancestry take to the synagogue to commemorate Yom HaShoah, where special liturgies are held. Usually, the liturgy features the Mourner's Kaddish, a prayer for the deceased.
People are encouraged to observe the holiday within the community, where there are ceremonies and events designed to pay homage to those who lost their lives during the Holocaust. These ceremonies aim to pay respect and remember the victims of World War II, and some ceremonies feature talks by some who have survived the Holocaust. Other activities include lighting candles and reading poems.
One of the goals of Yom HaShoah is also to educate people, especially young people, about Jewish history and the Holocaust.