Some 68% of Israelis who lost relatives in the Holocaust do not commemorate them on Holocaust Remembrance Day, according to a survey by nonprofit organization Shem VeNer (Name and Candle), which aims to instill family traditions of lighting candles in memory of relatives who perished in the Holocaust.
The survey was conducted by the Sarid Institute for Research Services among 500 Jewish respondents aged 18 and above and aims to examine the willingness and the manner in which Israelis commemorate the memory of family members who perished in the Holocaust.
According to the findings, 97% of respondents said they believed it is “important” or “very important” to commemorate the Holocaust.
Yet despite this, only 9% of Israelis commemorate their lost relatives by lighting a candle in their memory.
Additionally, only 9% of Israelis have family conversations about relatives lost in the Holocaust, and only 5% participate in remembrance ceremonies for their family members.
“The findings of the survey indicate that there is a gap between the declarative level that reflects ‘what people think should be’ and actual action,” Shem VeNer CEO Nora Siperman said about the findings.
“Although a clear majority, almost the entire public, believes that it is important to perpetuate the memory of the Holocaust, there are still growing segments of the population that choose not to do so.”
The findings further indicated that as the years go by, younger generations are increasingly distancing themselves from the memory of the Holocaust: 10% of respondents from the third generation said they do not commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day at all, compared with 3% of the second-generation respondents.
Additionally, the younger generation also sees itself as less connected to the victims as time passes: 59% of people over 56 years old said they have relatives who perished in the Holocaust, compared with 39% of people in the 18-25 age group.
“This trend is likely to lead to a situation not far from today in which the Holocaust will remain a subject that we will teach only in history lessons and not in our memory as a people,” Siperman said.
As such, the organization has called upon Jewish people around the world to light a candle on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day for a lost family member or simply for one of the millions of victims of the Holocaust.
“The tradition that we are promoting, in the framework of every home in Israel will light a remembrance candle on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, is a simple, basic and familiar act by the majority of the public that does not take much time and can become a tradition of commemoration and a basis for discussion on the issue and the return of identity to people who were tried to be erased from existence,” Siperman said.