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Turning VE day into an Israeli holiday

  • VE DAY- Veterans March in Jersualem to Commeorate V-E Day
Seventy-three years ago this week, on May 8 1945, many Jews recited the Shehecheyanu blessing to express thanks that they had survived to see that day. It was Victory in Europe Day, which marked the defeat of Nazi Germany and the formal end of hostilities in Europe.
by JORDAN MOSHE | May 10, 2018

A week before, Hitler is believed to have killed himself on the afternoon of 17 Iyar, according to the Jewish calendar, a few hours before the onset of Lag B’Omer – when mourning is traditionally set aside for celebration.

Such symbolism was appreciated by all Jews and there were even suggestions it should be transmitted in Hebrew classes to children as part of their education.

About 1.5 million Jews fought with the Allies against the Axis powers. A third of them were in the Red Army, some 60 000 served in the British armed forces, and 550 000 in the American army. Of these 38 338 suffered casualties – 11 000 were killed, 7 000 of them in combat, according to the Jewish Virtual Library.

In Israel this week, World War II veterans adorned in their medals, joined a march that was held outside the Knesset, along with a ceremony in honour of VE Day.

It was at the legislature’s ceremony marking the 73rd anniversary of the Allies’ victory that Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said that Iran and Nazi Germany were both evil regimes seeking to destroy the Jewish people, reported The Jerusalem Post.

“Today, like then, the Jewish people face threats,” Edelstein said. “Today, like then, we are a nation that stands alone. The nations of the world, as was proven by signing the Iran deal, do not always see eye to eye with us about the magnitude of the threats to us and the free world.

“But unlike then, today the State of Israel is a military and economic power that for 70 years has stood strong and ready with an iron fist against any threat,” Edelstein said.

Thanking the veterans for their efforts in the war, Edelstein said that the end of World War II brought about a new, more civilised era of freedom in the history of humanity.

“You remind us that, against those who want to turn off the light in the world, there will always be others who will relight it, and they will always, always win,” he said.

The VE Day festivities in the Knesset came a day after the legislature passed a law, making the Hebrew date of the victory over Nazi Germany a national holiday, on which there will be an official memorial ceremony and a prayer service at the Kotel.

Shas MK Yoav Ben-Tzur, who drafted the law, said: “Iit is appropriate for the Jewish sState to remember historically significant dates for our people on the Hebrew date, specifically when it comes to the memory of the Holocaust.”

In apparent reference to Poland’s recently enacted law against accusing Poles of co-operation with the Nazis, and trends in other post-communist states like Ukraine, Lithuania, Hungary, and others, Ben-Tzur added: “In the current reality, in which we deal with extremist and anti-Semitic leaders who want to erase and rewrite Jewish history, we must preserve it.”

 

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