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What’s the history?
Yom HaShoah is also known as Holocaust Remembrance/Memorial Day and occurs on the 27th of Nisan (March-April). It is the Memorial Day for the 6 Million Jewish people who were brutally killed during World War II. The word Shoah refers to these atrocities, as it means ‘catastrophe’ or ‘calamity’ in Hebrew.
Marking this day should emphasise the suffering of the European Jews (and every other victim of the Nazi regime) and remind people all over the world what happened during World War II so that such a tragedy will never be repeated again. 

Yom HaShoah was established in 1953 in Israel by the Prime Minister of Israel David Ben-Gurion and the President of Israel Yitzhak Ben-Zvi.

What do people do?
In Israel Yom HaShoah is a public holiday. At 10:00 am sirens are sounded and people pay respect to those who had to suffer during World War II. Moreover public buildings are closed and flags are flown at half-mast. 

Outside of Israel the events differ. Jewish people attend services and prayers in synagogues or talks by Holocaust survivors. Educational institutions devote their programs to teach about Holocaust and for many it is also a day of fasting, to emphasise the suffering of the European Jews. The Megillat HaShoah, a scroll especially written for Yom HaShoah, is also read in some synagogues all over the world. Another custom is to light a candle and to recite the Kaddish to mourn the dead.

What do we do at Westminster Synagogue?
We generally hold a service to mark Yom Hashoah, and in recent years we've been holiding a joint commemoration service together with West London Synagogue on Monday 20th April - Erev Yom Hashoah. More information to follow shortly. 

Tue, 19 October 2021 13 Cheshvan 5782