Many Canadians observe Yom Hashoah, which is also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day. It commemorates the lives and heroism of Jewish people who died in the Holocaust between 1933 and 1945.
Is Yom HaShoah a Public Holiday?
Yom HaShoah is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.
What Do People Do?
Many people in Canada, including those with Jewish ancestry or connections, observe Yom Hashoah on the 27th day of the month of Nisan. Many Jewish communities hold commemorative ceremonies or events to remember Holocaust victims who died during World War II.
The Masorti (Conservative Judaism) movement in Israel created Megillat HaShoah, a scroll and liturgical reading for Yom HaShoah. This is a joint effort between Jewish leaders Canada, Israel, and the United States. Synagogue services are held in Canada during Yom Hashoah and rituals may vary. Activities may include lighting memorial candles and reciting the Kaddish, which is a prayer for the departed.
Educational programs about the historical events associated with Yom Hashoah are shown around this time of the year, particularly to students learning about Jewish history. These programs may include a documentary featuring Holocaust survivors’ stories or a viewing of a Holocaust-themed film. Teaching resources and guidelines may accompany some of these programs.
Yom Hashoah is not a federal public holiday in Canada.
Israel’s Knesset (parliament) established Yom Hashoah, also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day, as a memorial to about six million Jewish people who were slaughtered by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945. It is observed on the 27th day of the month of Nisan. The full name of the day is Yom Hashoah Ve-Hagevurah, which means the “Day of (remembrance of) the Holocaust and the Heroism”.
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 2 days to make sure that the rules and customs applicable to each holiday were observed on the proper date. This rule is still observed today.