Yad Vashem – What’s in a Name?

Yad Vashem Hall of Names

Yad Vashem Hall of Names / Wikipedia

As the New Year begins, the Church reminds us of the importance of a name. We celebrate the Octave Day of Christmas, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and on the Monday after the Epiphany we celebrate the Most Holy Name of Jesus.

Octave means eight. The Gospel for the day relates:

“When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given Him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”

On this eighth day the infant was circumcised and a name given. The name was so important that it was announced by an angel. So important was the Name to God!

The Old Testament reading from Numbers for this day speaks of another Name:

“The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace! So shall they invoke My Name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them.”

What’s in a name?  Mystery! Holy Mystery!

As we begin our year, and as the liturgical year unfolds, celebrating the History of Salvation, let us remember our inhumane Human History as well. Herod’s holocaust sought to wipe away all hope for humanity, the plan of the Evil One. that might might make right as the world has come to believe.

Yad Vashem, written sometimes as, Yad VaShem, literally “hand and name” means “memorial.”

In the Hall of Names, the victims of the Holocaust of our time are remembered.

“Remember only that I was innocent

and, just like you, mortal on that day,

I, too, had had a face marked by rage, by pity and joy,

quite simply, a human face!”

Benjamin Fondane

Murdered at Auschwitz, 1944

“If we wish to live and to bequeath life to our offspring, if we believe that we are to pave the way to the future, then we must first of all not forget.”

(Prof. Ben Zion Dinur, Yad Vashem, 1956)