Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah in Hebrew) is a national day of commemoration in Israel, on which the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust are memorialized. It is a solemn day, beginning at sunset on the 26th of the month of Nisan (Wednesday evening, April 30, 2008) and ending the following evening, according to the traditional Jewish custom of marking a day. Places of entertainment are closed and memorial ceremonies are held throughout the country.
This year's central theme is "Holocaust Survivors in Israel: 60 Years Since the Establishment of the State." A new exhibition entitled "My Homeland: Holocaust Survivors in Israel" will open at Yad Vashem, presenting the story of Holocaust survivors in the shaping of Israeli identity, and how their influence permeated every aspect of Israeli society.
The central ceremonies, in the evening and the following morning, are held at Yad Vashem and are broadcast on television. Marking the start of the day, in the presence of the President of the State of Israel and the Prime Minister, dignitaries, survivors, children of survivors and their families gather together with the general public to take part in the memorial ceremony at Yad Vashem in which six torches, representing the six million murdered Jews, are lit. The following morning, the ceremony at Yad Vashem begins with the sounding of a siren for two minutes throughout the entire country. For the duration of the sounding, work is halted, people walking in the streets stop, cars pull off to the side of the road and everybody stands at silent attention in reverence to the victims of the Holocaust.
Afterward, the focus of the ceremony at Yad Vashem is the laying of wreaths at the foot of the six torches, by dignitaries and the representatives of survivor groups and institutions. A ceremony for youth movements with the participation of hundreds of youth will take place in the Valley of Communities at Yad Vashem. Other sites of remembrance in Israel, such as the Ghetto Fighters' Kibbutz and Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, also host memorial ceremonies, as do schools, military bases, municipalities and places of work.
On April 28-30, 2008, a unique three-day international conference will be held about new research on North Africa and its Jews during World War II. The conference will bring together 21 researchers from Europe, the United States and Israel. Organized by the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem and the Yad Ben Zvi Institute's Center for Information Documentation and Research on North African Jewry during WWII, it will take place at the Yad Ben Zvi Institute in Jerusalem.