President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday evening 18 Marcheshvan addressed a ceremony honoring the recipients of the ‘Decoration of Light’, awarded annually by the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel, for outstanding work benefiting Holocaust Survivors and improving the quality of their lives.

The President welcomed the extensive activity of the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel and said, “Sitting here today among us, are those who survived the Holocaust, who by difficult means, got up from the horrors and ruins, and marched into life. Many of them fought in the wars of Israel, and took an active part in the establishment of the State. People who suffered the most brutal abuse the human race has carried out. We cannot reach a point, chas v’sholom, where they will face the need to survive again. The Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel was founded by survivors, for survivors. Out of the daily difficulties, that unfortunately, and to our detriment are shared by many Holocaust survivors, such welcome initiatives have emerged. The Fund’s ‘Decoration of light’ is awarded each year to wonderful people who volunteered, and have worked to improve the quality of life of survivors, as well as to survivors of the Holocaust who have excelled in their work for the State.”

In conclusion, the President turned to all those being honored with the decoration, and said, “Your contribution and your endeavors, in the community, and on an individual level, are an example for us all, and mean world to those who endured the Holocaust, and the survivors of the Holocaust. You are a ray of light to the society in which we live and reflect all that is good and beautiful in our country. Let us not be mistaken by thinking that this award is enough to liberate us as a society and country from our responsibility to the survivors. Our obligation to Holocaust survivors does not end with speeches, awards or a pat on the back. Our obligations to Holocaust survivors should be ongoing, requiring us to be concerned for the welfare and well-being of those who paid the heaviest price for being Jewish. Our concern for them is a test of moral values for Israeli society, a test in which we cannot, we must not, fail. I want to congratulate you, the dear recipients of the ‘Decoration of Light’, for your blessed endeavors for the welfare of survivors.”

Among the awards given, was a special citation for IDF Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, for the IDF’s contribution to the welfare of Holocaust survivors. Gantz said “The memory of the Holocaust is one of the most painful and robust foundations upon which rests Israeli society, the People of Israel, and the IDF. I pledge that we will continue to educate our commanders, tell the stories of heroism, and honor the memory of the victims.”

Similarly, there were awards for Chairman of Yad Lashiryon, Haim Erez,; children’s author Alona Frankel; Holocaust survivor Shlomo Perel, who works to strengthen the awareness of the Holocaust; Dr. Yitzhak Arad, a resistance fighter and former Palmach member; Advocate Joseph Hayut, founder of the Clinic for Holocaust survivors; Dr. Yitzhak Hen, Chairman of the Dental Union and retirees working for survivors – Shoshana Shaham, Vered Kahati and Carmel Talia.

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