(JHE) — January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945, is marked in many countries as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is an occasion for commemorative ceremonies, educational programs, and other initiatives. Monuments and memorials are also dedicated or form centerpieces for commemorative events.
Perhaps fittingly, the evening of the anniversary this year also marks the start of Tu B’Shevat — the 15th of the Hebrew month of Shevat, which is known as “the New Year for Trees.”
It is the time of year when we see the first stirrings of nature reborn after the winter; the time when the earliest-blooming trees in the land of Israel start to flower.
Trees can serve as symbols for life — with trees that are cut representing death.
At JHE we mark the dates this year with images of trees in Jewish decorative art: They are mainly on gravestones, where the Tree is often shown broken or cut down as a symbol of death — but also where we see images evoking the Tree of Life — Etz Chaim, whose roots and branches morph into the image of a menorah, symbol of Judaism.
May the souls of the murdered be bound up in the bond of life! May their memory be both a blessing and inspiration!