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Honouring the Past, Nurturing the Future: Yom HaShoah Commemorated with 30,000 Yellow Candles

On Monday evening, 17th April, Jews across the globe commemorated Yom HaShoah, the annual Jewish Holocaust Remembrance Day. Maccabi GB’s Yellow Candle project united the Jewish community and facilitated the lighting of over 30,000 flames in the UK and worldwide to remember the lives so tragically cut short during the Holocaust.


The initiative brought together households, communal organisations, Jewish residential care homes, schools in the UK and worldwide – including in Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Spain and USA – for one common goal of ensuring the horrors of the Shoah are never forgotten.


Each Yellow Candle included a biographical card with information from the Yad Vashem archives, including the name, age, date, and place of death of a specific individual who perished in the Shoah, connecting each participant with a victim, and making the act of commemoration a deeply personal one. Individuals and families were able to commemorate Yom HaShoah with the many educational resources available on the www.yellowcandleuk.org website, including a template Home Ceremony developed by Maccabi GB.


A poignant Ceremony hosted by Yom HaShoah UK was watched by thousands online, and was attended by Holocaust survivors, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, and Israeli Ambassador to the UK Tzipi Hotovely amongst many others. During the Ceremony, six Yellow Candles were lit to honour the lives of the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. Representative of a British Jewry and second-generation members of the community accompanied the Holocaust survivors in lighting the flame of the Yellow Candle, whilst at the same time a live stream showed 24 families lighting their Yellow Candles from across the UK, as well as Israel and Poland as part of March of the Living UK. This symbolic act represented the importance of ensuring that each generation remembers the tragedy of the Holocaust.

Communities around the country also hosted local Yom HaShoah Ceremonies which included the lighting of Yellow Candles; Jonathan Prevezer, Chairman of Maccabi GB, lit his candle as part of the Ceremony at West London Synagogue.


Social media was also ablaze with the #yellowcandle on the evening of April 17th, creating a virtual memorial that united Jewish communities worldwide. The campaign trended 2nd on Twitter, with individuals all over the globe sharing pictures of their lit candles. On the Yellow Candle Facebook Page, there were over 17,000 impressions across the day, whilst on the Yellow Candle Instagram and LinkedIn Pages there was an average engagement rate of 10.59% and 14.92% respectively. The Yellow Candle UK website was visited by over 6,000 unique visitors in the last week.


The ‘Remembrance to Renewal’ campaign, which follows the lighting of Yellow Candle, focuses on the triumph and perseverance of Jewish life following the Shoah. As part of this campaign, two sunflower seeds were given with each candle. Participants are now invited to plant the seeds in their empty Yellow Candle tin, with each flower sprouting as a symbol of growth and renewal after tragedy.


Ashley Lerner, the CEO of Maccabi GB, said, “"I am incredibly proud of the widespread impact of the Yellow Candle project in marking and commemorating Yom HaShoah on a global scale. It has been deeply moving to witness Yellow Candles being lit in homes and public ceremonies throughout the world, serving as a powerful symbol of remembrance and honouring the memory of those who tragically lost their lives during the Holocaust.


The accompanying act of planting sunflower seeds as a symbol of growth and renewal reminds us that even in the face of darkness and devastation, hope and resilience can prevail. It is a testament to our collective commitment to never forget the atrocities of the Shoah and to strive towards a brighter future.

I am grateful to all our partners and sponsors whose unwavering support has made the Yellow Candle project a reality year after year. Their dedication and generosity have contributed to the success and impact of this initiative.


As we reflect on the significance of Yom HaShoah and the lessons it imparts, let us continue to honour the memory of the victims, stand against antisemitism and all forms of hatred, and work towards a world that cherishes diversity, inclusivity, and remembrance to renewal."


Maccabi GB are extremely grateful to the supporters and funders who made Yellow Candle 2023 possible. These include The Association of Jewish Refugees, Betty Messenger Charitable Foundation, The Charles Wolfson Charitable Trust, The Jewish Chronicle, We Are All Making A Difference (who funded Yellow Candles for Jewish residential care homes), Yad Vashem UK Foundation and Yom HaShoah UK.


Individuals can register their interest for next year’s Yellow Candle project, which will take place on Yom HaShoah, Sunday 5th May 2024, by visiting www.yellowcandleuk.org/registration

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