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“Everyone Has a Name” – Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day)

On Yom Hashoah we keep those who perished in the Holocaust alive by giving meaning and significance to their names. As a people, our Jewish community places great emphasis on the power of the name. In fact we love to make lists and lists of names. The Torah records lists of names, we compile our own lists of names every Yom Kippur on Yizkor, we list names of donors and benefactors.

Why do we find names so significant and powerful? You might even think to yourself– why even read all of these names?

whats in a name

A name can be so powerful because it survives all. We don’t necessarily know the people whose names are listed in the long lists in the Torah, or on the Vietnam Wall in Washington, or on the walls of the many Holocaust memorials or any of the hundreds of places where other such lists exist. We don’t know these people but we do know their names. A name which gives them a place in history, a name which gives them an enduring legacy who died during that time.

israel remebers

On yom hashoah we gather as a community, we remember the names of those who died and we affirm their lives by how we choose to lead our lives. So, names, indeed, are very powerful.

So how do we honour those who came before us and those who perished during the Holocaust? By giving our names – and their names meaning through our actions and aspirations and the way we fulfill them. By the deeds we perform and by the way we live our lives. Let’s commemorate these names and this unique day by reflecting on our given names.

next generation

Everyone Has a Name: a Poem for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day

“Everyone has a name”

Poem by the Israeli poet Zelda
[translated from Hebrew]

Everyone has a name
given to him by God
and given to him by his parents.
Everyone has a name
given to him by his stature
and the way he smiles.
and given to him by his clothing
Everyone has a name
given to him by the mountains
and given to him by the walls.
Everyone has a name
given to him by the stars
and given to him by his neighbors.
Everyone has a name
given to him by his sins
and given to him by his longing.
Everyone has a name
given to him by his enemies
and given to him by his love.
Everyone has a name
given to him by his holidays
and given to him by his work.
Everyone has a name
given to him by the seasons
and given to him by his blindness.
Everyone has a name
given to him by the sea and
given to him
by his death.

Beth Zuckerman
Beth Zuckerman
Beth is a former Upper Westsider, who made aliyah 8 years ago. She is a coffee addict and a lover of classical rock. Beth is the content and marketing manager at talknsave, in that order.

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