JERUSALEM — An extended line of worldwide dignitaries have paid visits to Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, and President Biden’s go to on Wednesday was not his first.
As vice chairman in 2010, he toured the location’s Holocaust Historical past Museum, Corridor of Names, Kids’s Memorial and Corridor of Remembrance, the place he participated in a memorial ceremony, and the place an everlasting flame burns by a crypt containing the ashes of Holocaust victims, commemorating the six million Jews killed by Nazi Germany and its collaborators throughout World Conflict II.
Again then, Mr. Biden spoke movingly of how, as a younger father, he had taken every of his sons at age 15 to Dachau, the Nazis’ first focus camp. Established in Germany in 1933, it was liberated 12 years later by the USA army. Mr. Biden mentioned he had wished his sons to grasp the “capacity of mankind to be so brutal.”
This time, the presidential go to to Yad Vashem might present a resonant reaffirmation of the human spirit and capability for survival.
After arriving there on Wednesday, Mr. Biden donned a black kippa and met Yad Vashem’s chairman, Dani Dayan, a former settler chief who was Israel’s consul basic in New York.
At a memorial ceremony, Mr. Biden rekindled the everlasting flame. A kids’s choir carried out “Stroll to Caesarea,” a 1942 poem by Hannah Szenes, a Hungarian Jewish resistance fighter in World Conflict II. It was set to music in 1945, the yr after Ms. Szenes was caught behind enemy strains and executed.
A cantor additionally recited a Jewish prayer for the souls of the Nazis’ victims, and Mr. Biden was introduced with a token of remembrance: a reproduction of a portray created by a Holocaust survivor, Moshe Perl, instantly after the liberation of the Dachau camp.
He wrote within the memorial’s guests’ guide: “We mustn’t ever, ever neglect as a result of hate isn’t defeated, it solely hides.”
The president and his delegation of American and Israeli officers additionally met two Holocaust survivors, Rena Quint and Giselle Cycowicz, who survived varied focus camps and, after the struggle, immigrated to the USA. Ms. Quint, who was a younger little one throughout the Holocaust, and Ms. Cycowicz, who was a younger teenager, are a part of a fading era that may bear witness to the Nazi atrocities.
With the 2 girls seated on chairs, Mr. Biden kneeled all the way down to their degree, spoke with them for a number of minutes, clasped their fingers and kissed them on their cheeks — once more diverging from a suggestion earlier within the day by his nationwide safety adviser that the president would keep away from bodily contact reminiscent of shaking fingers throughout his four-day journey, citing the quickly spreading new coronavirus subvariant.
Afterward, Ms. Cycowicz, who’s 95, mentioned: “Once I got here to America, I didn’t know a soul there. And I met so many pals and now I’ve been invited to fulfill a very powerful individual on this planet.” Ms. Quint, who’s 86 mentioned, “Did you see the president hug me? He requested permission to kiss me and he stored on holding my hand.”
Mr. Dayan had remarked earlier to Mr. Biden that he was afraid — with the primary woman, Jill Biden, not current — that the American chief would fall in love with the 2 girls. Mr. Biden, trying emotional, replied, “I’ve — they comprehend it!”
As he left, he blew them a kiss.