JERUSALEM — A long list of international dignitaries visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. Even for President Biden, his visit on Wednesday was not his first.
In 2010, as Vice President, he visited the site’s Holocaust History Museum, Hall of Names, Children’s Memorial and Memorial, where he participated in remembrance ceremonies and burned eternal flames in a basement containing the ashes of the Holocaust victims , commemorating the 6 million Jews killed by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II.
At the time, Mr. Biden spoke of how, as a young father, he took each of his sons to Dachau, the first Nazi concentration camp, at age 15. Founded in Germany in 1933, it was liberated by the US military 12 years later. Mr Biden said he wanted his sons to understand that “human beings have the capacity to be so brutal”.
This time, the President’s visit to the Holocaust Memorial may reaffirm the human spirit and viability.
After arriving on Wednesday, Mr. Biden donned a black kippa to meet Dani Dayan, the chairman of Yad Vashem, a former settler leader who was Israel’s consul general in New York.
At the memorial service, Mr. Biden rekindled the eternal flame. A children’s choir performed “Towards Caesarea,” a 1942 poem by Hannah Szenes, a Hungarian Jewish resistance fighter in World War II. In 1945, the year after Ms. Szenes was captured and executed behind enemy lines, it was set to music.
A cantor recited prayers for the souls of Nazi victims, and Mr Biden received a memento: a replica of a painting by Holocaust survivor Moshe Perl immediately after the liberation of Dachau .
The president added his name to the memorial’s visitor book, writing: “We must not forget because hatred is never defeated, it only hides.”
Mr Biden and his delegation of US and Israeli officials met with two Holocaust survivors, Rena Quint and Gisele Sekowitz, they were held in concentration camps and immigrated to the United States after the war. Young Ms Quint and teenage Ms Sekowitz during the Holocaust were part of a declining generation that could witness Nazi atrocities.
The two women sat in chairs and Mr Biden knelt down to their level and spoke to them for a few minutes, holding their hands and kissing their cheeks – again a remark raised by his national security adviser earlier in the day. The advice is different.President’s Council avoid physical contact Considering the fast-spreading subvariant of the novel coronavirus, it was like shaking hands on his four-day trip.
Afterwards, Ms. Cycowicz, now 95, said: “When I came to America, I didn’t know the soul there. And I made a lot of friends. Now I’m invited to meet the most important people in the world.”
Ms Quint, 86, said: “Did you see the president hug me? He asked for permission to kiss me and he kept holding my hand.”
Mr. Dayan had earlier told Mr. Biden that he feared — because the first lady Jill Biden was not there — that the U.S. leader might fall in love with the two women. Mr. Biden, looking emotional, replied: “I know – they know!”
As they left, he blew them a kiss.