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What Is Yom HaShoah?

Known as “Holocaust Remembrance Day” in English, Yom HaShoah commemorates the lives of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust between 1933 and 1945.

Candles are lit in remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust during Yom HaShoah.

© iStockphoto.com/FreedomMaster

Is Yom HaShoah a Public Holiday?

While this is not a public holiday in the United States, some Jewish-run organizations are closed on this date.

When Is Yom HaShoah?

Yom HaShoa is celebrated on the 27th day of the month of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar, which usually falls in April or May in the Gregorian calendar.

Remembrance and Recounting

Jewish communities often organize solemn services, prayers and vigils on this date. Schools may show films about the Holocaust, and invite the few remaining living survivors or their descendants to tell their stories of survival to classes. Other Yom HaShoah ceremonies can include readings of the names of victims, fasting, and the planting of trees or flowers.

In the temples, a special prayer called Megillat HaShoah is read for the occasion, and memorial candles are lit while the Kaddish, a prayer for those who have passed, is spoken.

The Lessons of Hate

In 1980, an act of Congress created the Holocaust Memorial Council, which today plays a major part in organizing Yom HaShoah observances in the United States. The Holocaust Week of Remembrance occurs from Sunday to Sunday for the week that includes Yom HaShoah.

The events during this memorial are designed to remind people of the deadly consequences of allowing bigotry, hatred, and indifference to become normalized. During this time, lectures are given by Holocaust scholars, student essay competitions and poetry readings are held, and music composed during the Holocaust is performed.

National Day of Mourning

In Israel, Yom HaShoah is considered a national memorial day, beginning with an evening ceremony at the Yad Vashem monument.

At 10 am on the holiday, air-raid sirens are sounded throughout the country for a national moment of silence. Places of public entertainment are closed and flags on public buildings are flown at half-mast.

Some students at Jewish schools travel to a special memorial service at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp near Kraków, Poland on this date. The memorial ceremony held there has become known as "The March of the Living" or "The March of Remembrance and Hope."

Jewish Holidays Last Longer Outside of Israel

In the Jewish diaspora—Jewish communities outside of Israel—an extra day is usually added to religious observances, with the exception of Yom Kippur, which lasts only one day worldwide, and Rosh Hashana, which is celebrated over two days in both Israel and the diaspora.

This custom has its roots in ancient times when the beginning of the months in the Jewish calendar still relied on the sighting of the crescent Moon following a New Moon.

The beginning of a new month was determined by the Sanhedrin, the supreme court of ancient Israel in Jerusalem. Once the date was published, messengers were dispatched to spread the news among Jews living abroad. Since this process took some time, it was decreed that Jews outside of ancient Israel were to observe every holiday for two days to make sure the rules and customs applicable to each holiday were observed on the proper date. This rule is still observed today.

About Yom HaShoah in Other Countries

Read more about Yom HaShoah.

Yom HaShoah Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2019WedMay 1Yom HaShoahJewish commemoration
2020TueApr 21Yom HaShoahJewish commemoration
2021ThuApr 8Yom HaShoahJewish commemoration
2022ThuApr 28Yom HaShoahJewish commemoration
2023TueApr 18Yom HaShoahJewish commemoration
2024MonMay 6Yom HaShoahJewish commemoration
2025WedApr 23Yom HaShoahJewish commemoration
2026TueApr 14Yom HaShoahJewish commemoration
2027TueMay 4Yom HaShoahJewish commemoration
2028MonApr 24Yom HaShoahJewish commemoration
2029WedApr 11Yom HaShoahJewish commemoration

While we diligently research and update our holiday dates, some of the information in the table above may be preliminary. If you find an error, please let us know.