U.S. President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump with Margot Herschenbaum
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23 May 2017
The President of the United States of America, Mr. Donald J. Trump, participated in a memorial ceremony at Yad Vashem on 23 May 2017. Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev accompanied President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump while at Yad Vashem. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Mrs. Sara Netanyahu, Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, and Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council Rabbi Israel Meir Lau also joined the President during his visit.
During the ceremony, conducted by Yad Vashem's Michael Fisher, the President rekindled the eternal flame and laid a wreath on a slab under which ashes from extermination camps are buried. El Maleh Rachamim, a Jewish prayer for the souls of the martyrs' of the Holocaust, was sung by cantor, Shai Ambramson.
Following the ceremony, President Trump signed the Yad Vashem guest book and made a moving statement, where he affirmed the paramount importance of remembering the victims of the Holocaust.
"It was the most savage crime against God and His children, and it is our solemn duty to remember, to mourn, to grieve and to honor every single life that was so cruelly and viciously taken…Only when we remember the families who were torn apart from everyone they loved, who suffered that terrible darkness and evil, who had endured the unbearable horror of the Holocaust, only then can we prevent this agony from ever repeating."
"As long as we refuse to be silent in the face of evil, as long as we refuse to dim the light of truth in the midst of darkness, as long as we refuse to become bystanders to barbarity then we know that goodness, peace and justice will ultimately prevail", he added.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered remarks highlighting the significance of Holocaust commemoration, stating, "You honor today the memory of six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust…Today in this solemn place, in Yad Vashem a great monument of remembrance, we remember the Holocaust. We remember the hatred towards Jews that consumed the defenseless people. We pledge never to be defenseless against that hatred again."
Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev presented the President with a token of remembrance, an exact replica of the original Holocaust-era personal album that belonged to Ester Goldstein who was murdered during the Holocaust at the age of 16. Shalev explained how the album is comprised of messages of hope and everlasting friendship inscribed by Ester’s family and friends. Some of the pages are embellished with optimistic and innocent illustrations, while others include photographs of those dearest to her.
"Approximately 1.5 million Jewish children were murdered in the Holocaust, most of them leaving behind almost no trace – a handful of photographs and some personal belongings. This precious album offers insight into the life of a young girl that was cut brutally short", he said.
Ester's sister Margot Herschenbaum, the sole survivor of her immediate family, attended the Presidential event at Yad Vashem and was notably moved when the President and the First Lady exchanged heartfelt remarks with her after receiving her sister's album.
Ester Goldstein's personal album is one of several included in an online exhibition available via Yad Vashem's website in four languages: English, Hebrew, Spanish and German.