The Jewish Men’s Clubs Brings a Light of Hope with Yellow Candle Program
While it’s been more than 70 years since the end of the Holocaust, the memory of those who suffered through those dark times will always be deeply engrained in each and every one of our kehillot (Jewish communities). As the years go by, the need to keep these memories alive remains more important than ever—and that was the impetus for the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs (FJMC) to create the Yellow Candle program in 1981.
The goal of the program is this: Distribute as many yellow candles as possible to members in and out of your kehilla (Jewish community). Modeled after the Jewish memorial Yahrzeit candle that burns for 24 hours during periods of mourning and on the anniversary of the death of a family member, the candle’s yellow wax reminds us of the yellow arm band the Jewish people had to wear during the Holocaust.
“The color yellow has great importance to the Jewish people, as it’s the color of the star worn and identified by all Jewish people during the Holocaust,” says FJMC Western Regional President Benny Sommerfeld. “The first generation of survivors are slowly disappearing and it’s up to us to continue their memory and legacy of remembering the Shoah victims and the horror to our families and friends. The FJMC program helps facilitate this by providing a yellow memorial candle accompanied by a poem to be read when lighting the candle on the eve of Yom HaShoah.”
Held this year on the evening of April 11, Yom HaShoah commemorates the 6 million Jewish people who perished and survived during the Holocaust. The Yellow Candle program, which has been implemented in many congregations around the country, including our USCJ Pacific Southwest Region synagogues, invites survivors to services on the eve of Yom HaShoah to tell their stories to synagogue members.
To Benny, who is the immediate past president at Temple Etz Chaim in Thousand Oaks, CA, keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive is one of the most critical things we can do as a Jewish community. “We owe it to tell our children so that they understand our roots and what our people had to overcome,” he says. “The message behind the yellow candle is so important because each lighting helps us remember our lost family members and carries on their legacy.”
Even if you don’t have a FJMC yellow candle, your family can remember the Shoah with a Yahrzeit candle, or any candle of your choosing. Typically, memorial candles burn for 24 hours.
Yellow Candle Meditation
Recite the following meditation while lighting your candle on the evening of April 11:
We light this yellow candle to rekindle God’s flame, to shine His light upon the world once again,
To sanctify the memories of the millions of souls, to honor their prayers and all their lost goals.
We bless their existence by being alive, to light this yellow candle as proof we survived.
For a list of more meditations and for more information on the program, visit here.