Yad Vashem

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Yad Vashem is Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

's official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

, established in 1953 through the Yad Vashem Law passed by the Knesset
Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

, Israel's parliament.

The origin of the name is from a Biblical verse: "And to them will I give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name (Yad Vashem) that shall not be cut off".

Located in the western region of Mount Herzl
Mount Herzl
Mount Herzl , also Har HaZikaron , is the national cemetery of Israel on the west side of Jerusalem. It is named for Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern political Zionism. Herzl's tomb lies at the top of the hill. Yad Vashem, which commemorates the Holocaust, lies to the west of Mt. Herzl....

 on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem, Yad Vashem is a 45 acres (182,108.7 m²) complex containing the Holocaust History Museum; memorial sites, such as the Children's Memorial and the Hall of Remembrance; The Museum of Holocaust Art; sculptures, outdoor commemorative sites such as the Valley of the Communities, a synagogue, archives, a research institute, library, publishing house and an educational center, The International School for Holocaust Studies. Yad Vashem honors non-Jews who saved Jews during the Holocaust, at personal risk, as the "Righteous among the Nations
Righteous Among the Nations
Righteous among the Nations of the world's nations"), also translated as Righteous Gentiles is an honorific used by the State of Israel to describe non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis....

".

Yad Vashem is the second most-visited tourist site in Israel, after the Western Wall
Western Wall
The Western Wall, Wailing Wall or Kotel is located in the Old City of Jerusalem at the foot of the western side of the Temple Mount...

. It receives some one million visitors annually. Admission is free.

Goals and objectives

  • Education:
    • operating the International School for Holocaust Studies;
    • providing professional development courses for educators both in Israel and throughout the world;
    • developing age-appropriate study programs, curricula and educational materials for both Israeli and foreign schools, in order to teach students of all ages about the Holocaust
    • holding exhibitions about the Holocaust; and
    • teaching about the Holocaust to the general public.
  • Documentation:
    • collecting names of Holocaust victims. The Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names currently holds 4 million names of Holocaust victims, all accessible online. Yad Vashem continues its project of collecting names of Jewish victims from historical documents, postwar commemoration projects and individual memories.
    • collecting photos, documents and resources regarding the Holocaust. The Yad Vashem Archives house some 138 million pages of Holocaust-related documentation and over 400,000 photographs.
    • collecting Pages of Testimony
      Page of Testimony
      A Page of Testimony is a form issued by Yad Vashem that asks for information about a Jewish victim of the Holocaust. More than two million Pages of Testimony have been submitted to Yad Vashem, beginning in the 1950s...

       memorializing Jewish victims of the Holocaust, Yad Vashem has so far collected 2.2 million Pages of Testimony.
    • recording testimonies of survivors. The Oral History Section of the Yad Vashem Archives currently houses some 102,000 audio, video, and written testimonies.
  • Commemoration:
    • preserving the memory and names of the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust and the numerous Jewish communities destroyed during that time; and
    • holding ceremonies of remembrance and commemoration.
  • Research and Publications:
    • conducting, encouraging and supporting research regarding the Holocaust;
    • encouraging students and young scholars to research the Holocaust;
    • developing and coordinating symposia, workshops and international conferences and undertaking scholarly projects;
    • publishing research and making it available to the general public; and
    • publishing memoirs, documents, albums and diaries related to the Holocaust.
  • Righteous Among the Nations:
    • Honoring non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. Since the 1960s the title of Righteous Among the Nations has been awarded to more than 23,700 individuals.

Museum



In 1993, Yad Vashem institute decided to build a larger museum to replace the one built during the 1960s. This was in response to the need to provide a meaningful way to commemorate the Holocaust amid the technological advances of the new millennium, while connecting to younger generations, whose responsibility it will be to pass on the legacy of Holocaust remembrance. The new Holocaust History museum is the largest Holocaust museum in the world. It is carved into the Mount of Remembrance and designed to tell the story of the European Jewish community during the Holocaust. Consisting of a long corridor connected to 10 exhibition halls, each dedicated to a different chapter of the Holocaust, the museum tells the story of the Holocaust from a Jewish perspective. The museum combines the personal stories of 90 Holocaust victims and survivors and presents approximately 2,500 personal items including artwork and letters donated by survivors and others. At the end of the Holocaust History Museum is the Hall of Names, a memorial to the 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. The main hall is composed of two cones: one ten meters high, with a reciprocal well-like cone excavated into the underground rock, its base filled with water. On the upper cone is a display featuring 600 photographs of Holocaust victims and fragments of Pages of Testimony. These are reflected in the water at the bottom of the lower cone, commemorating those victims whose names remain unknown. Surrounding the platform is the circular repository, housing the approximately 2.2 million Pages of Testimony collected to date, with empty spaces for those yet to be submitted—room for six million Pages in all. Attached is a study area with a computerized data bank and where online searches of Holocaust victims' names may be performed on the Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names. Access to the Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names is also available on the Internet at the Yad Vashem website.

Since the 1950s, Yad Vashem has collected approximately 102,000 audio, video and written testimonies by Holocaust survivors; as the survivors age and are beginning to become less mobile, the program has expanded to visiting survivors in their homes to tape interviews.

On 15 March 2005, the dedication of the new Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem, Israel took place. The impressive building was designed by the world acclaimed Canadian-Israeli architect, Moshe Safdie
Moshe Safdie
Moshe Safdie, CC, FAIA is an architect, urban designer, educator, theorist, and author. Born in the city of Haifa, then Palestine and now Israel, he moved with his family to Montreal, Canada, when he was 15 years old.-Career:...

. Leaders from 40 states and former Secretary General of the UN Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan
Kofi Atta Annan is a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the UN from 1 January 1997 to 31 December 2006...

 attended the inauguration of the Holocaust History museum. President of Israel
President of Israel
The President of the State of Israel is the head of state of Israel. The position is largely an apolitical ceremonial figurehead role, with the real executive power lying in the hands of the Prime Minister. The current president is Shimon Peres who took office on 15 July 2007...

 Moshe Katzav said that the new museum serves as "an important signpost to all of humankind, a signpost that warns how short the distance is between hatred and murder, between racism and genocide."

The grounds of Yad Vashem display sculpture by Naftali Bezem
Naftali Bezem
Naftali Bezem is an Israeli painter, muralist, and sculptor.-Biography:Bezem who was born in Essen, Germany, in 1924. His early adolescence was spent under Nazi oppression, in constant fear for the safety of his parents, who perished in Auschwitz concentration camp...

, Ilana Gur, Lea Michelson, Nathan Rapoport
Nathan Rapoport
Nathan Rapoport , who is also known as Natan Rapoport, was a Jewish sculptor who was born in Warsaw, Poland. His middle name may be rendered in English as either Yaakov or Jacob. In 1936, he won a scholarship to study in France and Italy. He fled to the Soviet Union when the Nazis invaded Poland...

, Moshe Safdie, Boris Saktsier, Zahara Schatz
Zahara Schatz
Zahara Schatz , was an Israeli fine and decorative artist and daughter of Boris Schatz, who founded the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, as it is known today, in Jerusalem.-Biography:...

, Buky Schwartz
Buky Schwartz
-Biography:Schwartz was born in Jerusalem in 1932. From 1956 to 1958, he studied sculpture with Yitzhak Danziger at the Avni Institute of Art and Design in Tel Aviv. In 1959, he moved to London, where he studied at the St. Martin's School of Art from 1959 to 1962. After returning to Israel in...

, Shlomo Selinger
Shlomo Selinger
Shelomo Selinger is an Israeli sculptor who was born in Jaworzno in Poland and immigrated to Israel in 1945. From 1955 to 1958, he studied at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris.His sculptures in public places include:...

, and Marcelle Swergold.

Righteous Among the Nations




One of Yad Vashem's tasks is to honor non-Jews who risked their lives, liberty or positions to save Jews during the Holocaust. To this end a special independent Commission, headed by a retired Supreme Court Justice, was established. The commission members, including historians, public figures, lawyers and Holocaust survivors, examine and evaluate each case according to a well-defined set of criteria and regulations. The Righteous receive a certificate of honor and a medal and their names are commemorated in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations , on the Mount of Remembrance, Yad Vashem. This is an ongoing project that will continue for as long as there are valid requests, substantiated by testimonies or documentation. 449 individuals were recognized during 2010, and as of 2010, more than 23,700 individuals have been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.

History


The idea of establishing a memorial in the historical Jewish homeland for Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust was conceived during World War II, as a response to reports of the mass murder of Jews in Nazi-occupied countries.

Yad Vashem was first proposed in September 1942, at a board meeting of the Jewish National Fund
Jewish National Fund
The Jewish National Fund was founded in 1901 to buy and develop land in Ottoman Palestine for Jewish settlement. The JNF is a quasi-governmental, non-profit organisation...

, by Mordecai Shenhavi, a member of Kibbutz Mishmar Ha'emek.

In August 1945, the plan was discussed in greater detail at a Zionist meeting in London where it was decided to set up a provisional board of Zionist leaders with David Remez
David Remez
David Remez was an Israeli politician, the country's first Minister of Transportation, and a signatory of the Israeli declaration of independence.-Biography:...

 as chairman, Shlomo Zalman Shragai, Baruch Zuckerman
Baruch Zuckerman
Baruch Zuckerman was a leading American-Israeli zionist, one of the leading proponents of Yad Vashem, editor of Yiddishe Kempfer, and a leading figure in the Farband and Histadrut campaigns, and president of the Labor Zionist Organization of America.-Early life:He was born into a poor family in...

, and Shenhavi.

In February 1946, Yad Vashem opened an office in Jerusalem and a branch office in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

 and in June that year, convened its first plenary session. In July 1947, the First Conference on Holocaust Research was held at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where further plans were made for Yad Vashem. However, the outbreak in May 1948 of the War of Independence, brought almost all Yad Vashem operations to a standstill for two years. In 1953, the Knesset, Israel's Parliament, unanimously passed the Yad Vashem Law, establishing the Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority.

Recent history


In 1973 the Austrian UN Secretary General, Kurt Waldheim
Kurt Waldheim
Kurt Josef Waldheim was an Austrian diplomat and politician. Waldheim was the fourth Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1972 to 1981, and the ninth President of Austria, from 1986 to 1992...

 rejected requests to wear a Jewish Kippa during a visit to Yad Vashem.

In 2000, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Fritz Kurt Schröder is a German politician, and was Chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005. A member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany , he led a coalition government of the SPD and the Greens. Before becoming a full-time politician, he was a lawyer, and before becoming Chancellor...

 visited Yad Vashem as a guest of Israeli Premier Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak is an Israeli politician who served as Prime Minister from 1999 until 2001. He was leader of the Labor Party until January 2011 and holds the posts of Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister in Binyamin Netanyahu's government....

 and was invited to turn a handle to boost the Eternal Flame
Eternal flame
An eternal flame is a flame or torch that burns day and night for an indefinite period. The flame that burned constantly at Delphi was an archaic feature, "alien to the ordinary Greek temple"....

.
In a much reported diplomatic gaffe he turned the handle the wrong way and extinguished it.

In 2005, in response to a letter by Sa'ar Netanel, a member of the Jerusalem City Council, Avner Shalev
Avner Shalev
Avner Shalev is the chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate of the The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority.-Service in the IDF:...

, Chairman of Yad Vashem, promised a presentation of information on "other victims" in a "relevant place". Some information on other victims of the Nazis can be found on Yad Vashem's web site as of January 2008.

During 2008, Yad Vashem hosted a wide range of VIPs and dignitaries, beginning with US President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

, who visited in January 2008. Also in January, Yad Vashem's International School for Holocaust Studies held the first ever International Youth Congress on the Holocaust. Over 100 young people, from 62 countries and five continents gathered at Yad Vashem for a three-day Youth Congress. The Congress, under the patronage of UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

, was devoted to the study of the Holocaust and discussions of its universal significance. Participants, ranging in age from 17 to 19, and including among them Christians, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists, and speaking some 30 different languages, studied various Holocaust-related topics, toured Yad Vashem and Jerusalem, participated in workshops, and met with Holocaust survivors. Special sessions were held with Israeli dignitaries including president Shimon Peres
Shimon Peres
GCMG is the ninth President of the State of Israel. Peres served twice as the eighth Prime Minister of Israel and once as Interim Prime Minister, and has been a member of 12 cabinets in a political career spanning over 66 years...

.

During March 2008, German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel
Angela Dorothea Merkel is the current Chancellor of Germany . Merkel, elected to the Bundestag from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, has been the chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union since 2000, and chairwoman of the CDU-CSU parliamentary coalition from 2002 to 2005.From 2005 to 2009 she led a...

, accompanied by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert is an Israeli politician and lawyer. He served as Prime Minister of Israel from 2006 to 2009, as a Cabinet Minister from 1988 to 1992 and from 2003 to 2006, and as Mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003....

 and eight ministers from each government, visited Yad Vashem. A memorial ceremony, with the participation of the Chancellor, the Prime Minister, and the Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev, took place in the Hall of Remembrance.

Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 Benedict XVI visited Yad Vashem on 11 May 2009, with the participation of President
President
A president is a leader of an organization, company, trade union, university, or country.Etymologically, a president is one who presides, who sits in leadership...

 Shimon Peres
Shimon Peres
GCMG is the ninth President of the State of Israel. Peres served twice as the eighth Prime Minister of Israel and once as Interim Prime Minister, and has been a member of 12 cabinets in a political career spanning over 66 years...

 and Knesset
Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

 Speaker Reuven Rivlin
Reuven Rivlin
Reuven "Rubi" Rivlin is an Israeli lawyer, politician, currently serving as a speaker of the Knesset. He belongs to conservative Likud. A former Speaker of the Knesset, in 2007 he ran in the election for President as the Likud candidate...

. Similar to the visit of his predecessor Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 John Paul II in 2000, Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 Benedict XVI's visit took place in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem, where he participated in a memorial ceremony, delivering an address and greeting six Holocaust survivors and a Righteous Among the Nations.

On 9 November 2008, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau
Yisrael Meir Lau
Yisrael Meir Lau is the Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, Israel, and Chairman of Yad Vashem. He previously served as the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel from 1993 to 2003.-Biography:...

 was appointed by the Israeli government as Chairman of Yad Vashem to replace the late Tommy Lapid.

During 2009–2010, Yad Vashem launched websites in Spanish and Russian that joined the existing ones in English, Hebrew, and Farsi. Yad Vashem also created dedicated YouTube channels in English, Hebrew, Spanish, Russian and Arabic. Some 11 million visits were recorded on www.yadvashem.org during 2010.

Awards

  • In 1973, the Pinkas HaKehillot (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities) project of Yad Vashem was awarded the Israel Prize
    Israel Prize
    The Israel Prize is an award handed out by the State of Israel and is largely regarded as the state's highest honor. It is presented annually, on Israeli Independence Day, in a state ceremony in Jerusalem, in the presence of the President, the Prime Minister, the Knesset chairperson, and the...

    , for its special contribution to society and the State.

  • In 2003, Yad Vashem was awarded the Israel Prize, for lifetime achievement and its special contribution to society and the State.

  • In September 2007, Yad Vashem received the Prince of Asturias
    Asturias
    The Principality of Asturias is an autonomous community of the Kingdom of Spain, coextensive with the former Kingdom of Asturias in the Middle Ages...

     Award for Concord. The Prince of Asturias Awards
    Prince of Asturias Awards
    The Prince of Asturias Awards are a series of annual prizes awarded in Spain by the Prince of Asturias Foundation to individuals, entities or organizations from around the world who make notable achievements in the sciences, humanities, and public affairs....

     is presented in 8 categories. The Award for Concord is bestowed upon the person, persons or institution whose work has made an exemplary and outstanding contribution to mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence amongst men, to the struggle against injustice or ignorance, to the defense of freedom, or whose work has widened the horizons of knowledge or has been outstanding in protecting and preserving mankind's heritage.

  • On 25 October 2007, Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev
    Avner Shalev
    Avner Shalev is the chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate of the The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority.-Service in the IDF:...

     was honored with the Légion d’Honneur for his "extraordinary work on behalf of Holocaust remembrance worldwide." French President Nicolas Sarkozy
    Nicolas Sarkozy
    Nicolas Sarkozy is the 23rd and current President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra. He assumed the office on 16 May 2007 after defeating the Socialist Party candidate Ségolène Royal 10 days earlier....

     personally presented Shalev with the award in a special ceremony at the Elysee Palace.

  • In 2011 Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev
    Avner Shalev
    Avner Shalev is the chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate of the The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority.-Service in the IDF:...

     received the City of Jerusalem’s premier award for outstanding lifetime achievement and service to Israel’s capital city.

See also

  • List of Israel Prize recipients
  • List of Righteous Among the Nations by country
  • The Holocaust History Project
    The Holocaust History Project
    The Holocaust History Project is a non-profit corporation based in San Antonio, Texas. Its website offers a comprehensive archive of documents, recordings, photographs, and essays regarding the Holocaust, Holocaust denial and antisemitism...

  • Yad Vashem: Preserving the Past to Ensure the Future
    Yad Vashem: Preserving the Past to Ensure the Future
    Yad Vashem: Preserving the Past to Ensure the Future is a 1989 short documentary film produced by Ray Errol Fox. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short....


External links