January 27, was the annual official day for the remembrance of the victims of the Nazi-era worldwide and here is the what the UN has decreed on the same:

“International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27) is an annual international day of remembrance designated by an official resolution of the United Nations General Assembly on November 1, 2005.

The resolution urges every member nation to honor the memory of Holocaust victims and encourages the development of educational programs about Holocaust history as part of the resolve to help prevent future acts of genocide. There can be no reversing the unique tragedy of the Holocaust. It must be remembered, with shame and horror, for as long as human memory continues. Only by remembering can we pay fitting tribute to the victims. Millions of innocent Jews and members of other minorities were murdered in the most barbarous ways imaginable. We must never forget those men, women and children, or their agony.” — United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, January 27, 2006. (Wikipedia)

I was wondering as to ’why’ this day of January 27, until I realized that this is the day that the Soviets entered/liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camps in 1945 where some 1,1 to 1,6 million people perished; 90 per cent of them Jews. My dad visited these camps about five to ten years later after the events and his comments were ‘that it still did smell very nauseatingly of burned flesh’ – amazing when one thinks of the time-lapse. He also had black and white photographs of the ovens, the barracks, the imposing entrance at Birkenau and generally of the camps. I did find these pictures very haunting to look at, by the way.

A further quote off Wikipedia:

“…about three-quarters of the total, went to the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau within a few hours; they included all children, all women with children, all the elderly, and all those who appeared on brief and superficial inspection by an SS doctor not to be fully fit.

In the Auschwitz Birkenau camp more than 20,000 people could be gassed and cremated each day. At Birkenau, the Nazis used a cyanide gas produced from Zyklon B pellets, which were manufactured by two companies who had acquired licensing rights to the patent held by IG Farben….

At the Auschwitz complex 405,000 prisoners were recorded as slaves between 1940 and 1945. Of these about 340,000 perished through executions, beatings, starvation, and sickness. Some prisoners survived through the help of German industrialist Oskar Schindler, who saved about 1,100 Polish Jews by diverting them from Auschwitz to work for him, first in his factory near Kraków and later at a factory in what is now the Czech Republic.”

In my entry on Amsterdam, some time back, I mentioned that I visited the Anne Frank House Museum and this is what I said then: The horror of the Nazi era came alive in the Anne Frank House where we spent hours looking, thinking and going from room to room in the Annex as it still looks like it was when the people and Anne herself were hiding in there. The bookshelf – so familiar from the book of Anne’s, ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ – is still there…”

In Israel the day for the Holocaust Remembrance, Yom HaShoah, is in the spring which I have witnessed myself for a few times; this year it is on April 16; the Wikipedia puts it like this:

“On the eve of Yom HaShoah in Israel, there is a state ceremony at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes Authority. At 10:00am on Yom HaShoah, throughout Israel, air-raid sirens are sounded for two minutes. Public transport (including virtually all highway vehicles) comes to a standstill for this period, and people stop and stand silent. During Yom HaShoah, public entertainment and many public establishments in Israel are closed by law. Israeli television and radio channels broadcast mourning songs and documentaries about the Holocaust, without commercials. All flags on public buildings are flown at half mast.

Also during this day, tens of thousands of Israeli high-school students, and thousands of Jews from around the world, hold a memorial service in Auschwitz, in what became known as “The March of the Living“, in defiance of the Holocaust Death Marches.”

Additional information: Oliver Lustig’s Presentation at I Survived.org, Holocaust Remembrance Network.

Tis for now. Riihele xx

Photo is part of The Names at the Yad Vashem* Museum in Jerusalem by me.

*The origin of the name is from a Biblical verse: “And to them will I give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name … that shall not be cut off.” (Isaiah, chapter 56, verse 5) In Hebrew, “a memorial and a name” translates as yad va-shem. A literal translation would be “hand and name.” (Wikipedia)

Learning Hebrew


This happy and sunny picture was taken by me in the Yemin Moshe area of Jerusalem where I lived for a while in 2003. Isn’t it just bursting with the colours and vitality!? I don’t have any of my kibbutz photos with me here in Finland. But here is a fab photo on the net of kibbutz Alonim. The kibbutzim do look like this as well, though, for they are planted with gardens in a village-like setting. A kibbutz really is like a miniature village in its essence. This can be good but often it gets claustrophobic in a long run, as one need not step outside the village gate at all. All the services are there, even the hairdressers, beauticians and hospitals in many of the kibbutzim.

My favourite kibbutz of the four that I stayed in is right at the Lebanese border called, Yiron, but unfortunately, they did not have an Ulpan up there so I was forced to move to a kibbutz that did: Alonim, which is situated close to a town called, Qiryat Tivon on the main Haifa -Tiberias road.

I had had this strong yearning desire to learn Hebrew since I was 12-years of age and had been aiming to do so ever since. Talk about perseverance! This is a few word explanation what an ulpan is. I know, not exactly thorough but, at least, it gives a morsel what the word includes. Ulpan is often in a kibbutz where one works part-time and studies Hebrew six days a week full speed. It is an immersion course where everything is learned through Hebrew language whether it is the language  itself and the grammar, history, geography, music, or whatever, the teacher will only speak in Hebrew. We had all the above.

This idea of the immersion study is very hip and happening these days world over but then it was only done in Israel, as far as I am aware. Now nearly every country on the globe has in one or another language this excellent method of teaching. It sure gives amazing results and fast! Yet, it’s a fun way of learning, methinks. Hmm, most of the time that is…

The Aleph-course – the first level of studies – begins with right pantomime because most of the students do not have any of the language par a word or two; such as Shalom, Amen, Hallelujah, which are universal Hebrew words all over the world. I can still after all this time  picture Pnina, our teacher, doing these charades and exaggerated gestures with the punctuation of the correct pronunciation of the words and expressions she taught us. Oh, it was soo HILARIOUS! It makes me laugh, just as it did that time. And, do you know, I remember a lot of them with Pnina’s motions and moves!

The Ulpan was such a howl at times as I mentioned earlier in this entry. Pnina, my first teacher, was a born comedian. When she was trying to teach us, for example, ‘I am here. I am there.’ She would march out of the classroom and repeat for several times going back and forth:


Then returning.


Heureka!! The light bulbs went on. We got it.
What Pnina meant was:

“Pnina is there.
Pnina is here!”

Oh, we were soo pleased.
Pnina also, for sure. Metzuyan!!

She was praising our ability to get her charades saying:


It is most rewarding when one’s teaching methods work to the T, of course.

The class was too large for Pnina to handle by herself, so we were divided: I and another dozen or so who knew a bit more of the language went to Leah’s class – the Kita Bet – in the ulpan. Leah’s approach to teaching was vastly different from that of Pnina. No more comedy came from the front; it had to come from the class itself. It did.

Shalom, shalom m‘Riihele xx.


Here is another Ulpan-story a couple years ago when I revised me Hebrew in Jerusalem, called: ‘Hi Handsome!’

And some more Israel related entries:
Art of Living – Israel Style
Jerusalem City of Gold
Jerusalem: Life & Living
Jerusalem – Living History

The Hebrew words in bold:
Ulpan =
Hebrew language school
= there
Po = here
Yoffi = good, great
Metzuyan = excellent
= class
Bet = second; letter b
m‘= from