Holyland Hoops Marks Yom HaShoah

May 6, 2024 | Holyland Hoops

In Israel, with the sunset last night, we entered one of the heaviest periods of the year. Last night and today is Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), when commemorate the Holocaust. Next week, we will remember Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims to terror attacks on Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) – even more meaningful this year because of the atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7 last year and the war which still continues – and then the very next day we will celebrate Modern Israel’s independence on Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day).

Yom HaShoah (formally known as Yom HaZikaron laShoah ve-laG’vurah, which translates to Memorial Day for the Holocaust and Heroism), began at sunset last night. In 1951, the Knesset established the 27th day of the Hebrew month of Nissan as Yom HaShoah (but some years, like this year, it is marked on the 28th day of Nissan due to the proximity of the 27th to Shabbat). On Yom HasShoah, we commemorate the horrifying events which transpired in the 1930s and 1940s, when six millions Jews were murdered in the Holocaust by Nazi Germany. Even today we don’t need to look far to find the pure hatred that sparked the horrors of the Holocaust – one only needs to look at the protests and demonstrations on university and college campuses in the US in the media today.

While in previous years, it would be common to see the Israel basketball teams playing in Europe to visit local sites commemorating the Holocaust (as an example you can read my piece from Yom HaShoah last year), this year, due to both the current war and the fact that events in the Hebrew calendar are marked in the Gregorian calendar later due to it being a leap year in the Hebrew calendar, the day is being marked differently.

Each of the top basketball leagues, the Men’s Winner League and the Women’s Athena Winner League, posted on social media with a clear message, “Nizkor Ve-Lo Nishkach” – “Always Remember and Never Forget”. Many of the clubs posted similar messages on social media, including men’s clubs Hapoel Jerusalem, Hapoel Holon, Ironi Kiryat Ata, Bnei Herzliya, Hapoel Haifa, Hapoel Afula, Hapoel Eilat, Hapoel Galil Elion and Hapoel Beer Sheva, as well as women’s clubs Hapoel Lev Jerusalem and Maccabi Haifa.

In addition to the messages, the two Tel Aviv-based men’s teams, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Tel Aviv, shared on social media the special events that they held last night.

Hapoel Tel Aviv players and professional staff participated in a special lecture from Uri Meiselman, a Hapoel fan who is active in activities commemorating the Holocaust. Meiselman told his audience about the effort to purchase and preserve the bunker of the fighters in the Będzin Ghetto in Poland, a project in which Uri was involved, as well as the story of Abramek Koplowicz, a youth from Łódź whose book of poems was found I Auschwitz after he was murdered.

Hapoel captain, Bar Timor, said: “Lectures like these are important for us as Israelis because it’s always possible to learn more about the Holocaust and to learn new stories that we didn’t know. For the foreign players who naturally know less about our history, it was an important lecture for them to hear. Thank you to Uri who came to us and shares these stories.”

Maccabi-affiliated non-profit fan group “Achim LaSemel” gathered in “Heichal HaMaccabim” to hold a “Zikaron BaMoadon” (Memorial in the Club), commemorating club legend Ralph Klein z”l, a Holocaust survivor who played and coached Maccabi. A panel consisting of Dr. Michelle Stein Teer (author of ‘Ralph Klein The Coach’), Rinat Klein (Ralph Klein’s daughter), Moti Daniel (former Maccabi player who played under Ralph Klein) and Inbar Goldstein spoke to fans and Maccabi basketball youth players about Klein’s life story and of the resurrection of the Jewish people.

For me personally, Israeli basketball provides a constant reminder to the world that we, the Jewish people, are still here and we are strong, despite the events of the Holocaust. While basketball is an avenue for showcasing athletic strength and abilities, it is no less significant that Holyland Hoops continue to commemorate, together with the rest of the Jewish people, the atrocities which we suffered during the Holocaust.

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