What is the difference between Yom HaShoah and Holocaust Remembrance Day?

Israel commemorates the Jewish victims of the Holocaust on a different day than the rest of the world. Here’s why:
People visit at the Hall of Names in the Yad Vashem museum to see the exhibition and commemorate International Holocaust day on January 26, 2017 in Jerusalem, Israel. Thousands of people will come together today to remember and honour the millions killed in the Holocaust and mark the 71th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops on 27th January, 1945. Auschwitz was among the most notorious of the concentration camps run by the Nazis during WWII and whilst it is impossible to put an exact figure on the death toll it is alleged that over a million people lost their lives in the camp, the majority of whom were Jewish. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)

Yom HaShoah is a day of commemoration for the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. This might sound similar to International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which takes place in January, but these are actually two different occasions.

Yom HaShoah is the Jewish community’s day for internal reflection. It’s an opportunity to educate children, share stories, honor the victims of the Holocaust; and recognize the accomplishments of survivors. 

In comparison, International Holocaust Remembrance Day is meant for everyone (no matter their religion or ethnicity) to remember the victims of the Holocaust. This day also recognizes all the forms of Nazi Persecution and other genocides that have taken place. It falls on January 27th each year to mark the day that the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp was liberated in 1945.

You might be wondering why the names are different. Shoah is a biblical Hebrew word for “catastrophe.” Whereas, Holocaust is a greek term that means “a burnt sacrificial offering to a god.” The word Shoah is used for Yom HaShoah because it centers the experiences of Jewish people.

We use these days for internal reflection, and we vow to never forget.