The Day of Liberation and Rescue, marking the liberation of European Jewry from the hands of the Nazis, is marked each year on 26 Iyar. This year, it marked 73 years from the final rescue of the survivors and was devoted to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust for the fifth time in Israel and abroad.
Thousands of people, including hundreds of children, participated in dozens of prayer rallies in synagogues, memorial sites and schools throughout the world. Places included Rome, Italy; Frankfurt and Leipzig, Germany; Vienna, Austria; Warsaw, Poland; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Budapest, Hungary; Amsterdam; London; Moscow; Georgetown, New York; Pinsk, Belarus; Kiev, Ukraine; and Sydney, Australia. The ceremonies were participated in by chief rabbis, community leaders, defense ministers, military attachés of the Allied Forces, and survivors.
For the first time, a prayer rally took place in the synagogue in Guangzhou, China.
In Israel, prayer rallies took place in synagogues in Haifa, Migdal Ha’emek, Afula, Netanya, Hadera, Holon, Ashdod, Be’er Sheva, Ganei Tikvah and Modi’in.
As usual, the Day of Liberation and Rescue opened with a prayer rally at the Kosel with the participation of the Rishon LeTzion, Sephardic Chief Rabbi Harav Yitzchak Yosef, and President of the Conference of European Rabbis and Rabbi of Moscow Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, who both gave moving addresses.
Three days after the Knesset passed the bill submitted by the Chairman of the Shas faction, MK Rabbi Yoav Ben Zur, to mark the Day of Liberation and Rescue with prayers and thanksgiving at the Kosel, hundreds of people from across the country participated in the special prayer rally. The participants prayed and offered praises and thanks to God for saving the Jewish nation from its enemies.
Hundreds joined the prayer rally in the Grand Synagogue in Moscow, as well. The guest of honor from Israel, Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi Harav David Lau, gave a stirring address on the tremendous virtue of the originator of this initiative, Mr. German (Gavriel) Zakharyayev: “Your name will be inscribed in the golden chronicles of the Jewish nation,” he said to applause.
This initiative to mark the Day of Liberation and Rescue is led by philanthropist German Zakharyayev, vice president of the Russian Jewish Congress, who devotes much of his time and energy to mark and commemorate the rescue of the remaining European Jews from the horrific Holocaust.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent letters to Mr. Zakharyayev, the community leaders and war veterans who had fought against the Nazis, blessing his initiative and the commemoration of the victims, among them soldiers of the Red Army, “who wrote chapters of incredible heroism in the fateful battle,” and their tremendous contribution to the liberation of the Jews from the death camps and their rescue from complete annihilation.
The Prime Minister praised the bill passed by the Knesset, “which serves as a clear testimony to the importance that we attribute to the topic,” and wished them continued success in their important work.