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Yad Vashem

File:Yad Vashem Hall of Names by David Shankbone.jpg
The Hall of Names containing Pages of Testimony commemorating the millions of Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust.
File:YadVashem Valley of the Communities 002.jpg
Valley of the Destroyed Communities.

Yad Vashem (Hebrew: יָד וַשֵׁם) is Israel's official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, established in 1953 through the Yad Vashem Law passed by the Knesset, Israel's parliament.

Yad Vashem is located on the western slope of Mount Herzl on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem, Script error: No such module "convert". above sea level and adjacent to the Jerusalem Forest. The memorial consists of a Script error: No such module "convert". 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, a research institute with archives, a library, a publishing house, and an educational center named The International School/Institute for Holocaust Studies.

When Yad Vashem came into being, a core goal of its founding visionaries was to recognize gentiles who, at personal risk, and without a financial or evangelistic motive, chose to save their Jewish brethren from the ongoing genocide during the Holocaust. Those recognized by the State of Israel as Righteous Among the Nations are honored in a section of Yad Vashem known as the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations.

After the Western Wall, Yad Vashem is the second most-visited Israeli tourist site. Its curators charge no fee for admission and welcome approximately one million visitors a year.


The name "Yad Vashem" is taken from a verse in the Book of Isaiah: Even unto them will I give in my house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off" (Isaiah 56:5). Naming the Holocaust memorial "yad vashem" (Biblical Hebrew יָ֣ד וָשֵׁ֔ם yāḏ wā-šêm) conveys the idea of establishing a national depository for the names of Jewish victims who have no one to carry their name after death. The original verse referred to eunuchs who, although they could not have children, could still live for eternity with the Lord.[1]


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, by Mordecai Shenhavi, a member of Kibbutz Mishmar Ha'emek.[1] In August 1945, the plan was discussed in greater detail at a Zionist meeting in London. A provisional board of Zionist leaders was established that included David Remez as chairman, Shlomo Zalman Shragai, Baruch Zuckerman, and Shenhavi. In February 1946, Yad Vashem opened an office in Jerusalem and a branch office in Tel Aviv 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 of Jerusalem. However, the outbreak in May 1948 of the War of Independence, brought 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.

The location of Yad Vashem on the western side of Mount Herzl, an area devoid of weighty historical associations, was chosen to convey a symbolic message of "rebirth" after destruction, unlike the Chamber of the Holocaust, founded in 1948 on Mount Zion.[2][3] Thus, the latter museum, whose walls are lined with plaques memorializing over 2,000 Jewish communities destroyed during the Holocaust,[4][5] portrays the Holocaust as a continuation of the "death and destruction" that plagued Jewish communities throughout Jewish history.[6]

The new Yad Vashem museum was designed by Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie, replacing the previous 30-year old exhibition.[7] It is the culmination of a $100 million decade-long expansion project.[8]

In November 2008, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau was appointed Chairman of Yad Vashem to replace Tommy Lapid.[9]


The goals of Yad Vashem are education, research and documentation and commemoration.[10] Yad Vashem organizes professional development courses for educators both in Israel and throughout the world; develops age-appropriate study programs, curricula and educational materials for Israeli and foreign schools in order to teach students of all ages about the Holocaust; holds exhibitions about the Holocaust; collects the names of Holocaust victims;[11] collects photos, documents and personal artifacts; and collects Pages of Testimony memorializing victims of the Holocaust.[12] Yad Vashem seeks to preserve the memory and names of the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust and the numerous Jewish communities destroyed during that time. It holds ceremonies of remembrance and commemoration; supports Holocaust research projects; develops and coordinates symposia, workshops and international conferences; and publishes research, memoirs, documents, albums and diaries related to the Holocaust.[13] Yad Vashem also honors non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

The International School/Institute for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem, founded in 1993, offers guides and seminars for students, teachers and educators, and develops pedagogic tools for use in the classroom.[14] Yad Vashem trains 10,000 domestic and foreign teachers every year.[15] The organization operates a web site in several languages, including German, Hebrew, Farsi and Arabic. In 2013 Yad Vashem launched an online campaign in Arabic, promoting Yad Vashem's website. The campaign reached over 2.4 million Arabic speakers from around the globe, and the traffic to Yad Vashem's website was tripled.[16]

The institution's policy is that the Holocaust "cannot be compared to any other event." In 2009 Yad Vashem fired a docent for comparing the trauma Jews suffered in the Holocaust to the trauma Palestinians suffered during Israel's War of Independence, including the Deir Yassin massacre.[17]

Yad Vashem Studies is a peer-reviewed semi-annual scholarly journal on the Shoah. Published since 1957, it appears in both English and Hebrew editions.[18]


File:Yad Vashem view.JPG
View on Yad Vashem
File:YadVashem- Enterance.JPG
Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum.

Yad Vashem opened to the public in 1957. The exhibits focused on Jewish resistance in the Warsaw ghetto, the uprisings in Sobibor and Treblinka death camps, and the struggle of survivors to reach Israel.[19]

In 1993, planning began for a larger, more technologically advanced museum to replace the old one. The new building, designed by Canadian-Israeli architect Moshe Safdie, consists of a long corridor connected to 10 exhibition halls, each dedicated to a different chapter of the Holocaust. 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. The old historical displays revolving around anti-Semitism and the rise of Nazism have been replaced by exhibits that focus on the personal stories of Jews killed in the Holocaust. According to Avner Shalev, the museum's curator and chairman, a visit to the new museum revolves around "looking into the eyes of the individuals. There weren't six million victims, there were six million individual murders."[19]

The new museum was dedicated on 15 March 2005 in the presence of leaders from 40 states and former Secretary General of the UN Kofi Annan. President of Israel Moshe Katzav said that Yad Vashem 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."[20]


The museum, designed by Moshe Safdie, is shaped like a triangular concrete "prism" that cuts through the landscape, illuminated by a 200-meter long skylight. Visitors follow a preset route that takes them through underground galleries that branch off from the main hall.[8] Visitors are guided into the galleries by a series of impassable gaps that of the Holocaust are highlighted.[21]

Hall of Names

The Hall of Names is 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. Since the 1950s, Yad Vashem has collected approximately 110,000 audio, video and written testimonies by Holocaust survivors. As the survivors age, the program has expanded to visiting survivors in their homes to tape interviews. Adjoining the hall is a study area with a computerized data bank where visitors can do online searches for the names of Holocaust victims.


Righteous Among the Nations

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Janusz Korczak and the children, memorial
File:PikiWiki Israel 12503 childrens memorial at yad vashem.jpg
Memorial to the Jewish children murdered by the Nazis.

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,[22] 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. 555 individuals were recognized during 2011, and as of 2011, more than 24,300 individuals have been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.

Art gallery

Yad Vashem houses the world's largest collection of artwork produced by Jews and other victims of Nazi occupation in 1933-1945. Yehudit Shendar, the senior art curator of Yad Vashem, supervises a 10,000-piece collection, adding 300 pieces a year, most of them donated by survivors' families or discovered in attics.[23] Included in the collection are works by: Alexander Bogen, Alice Lok Cahana, Samuel Bak, and Felix Nussbaum.

Prizes awarded by Yad Vashem

Yad Vashem awards the following book prizes:

Awards bestowed upon Yad Vashem

  • In 1973, the Pinkas HaKehillot (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities) project of Yad Vashem was awarded the Israel Prize, for its special contribution to society and the State.[27]
  • In 2003, Yad Vashem was awarded the Israel Prize, for lifetime achievement and its special contribution to society and the State.[28][29]
  • In September 2007, Yad Vashem received the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord.[30] The Prince of Asturias Awards 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 was honored with the Légion d’honneur for his "extraordinary work on behalf of Holocaust remembrance worldwide." French President Nicolas Sarkozy personally presented Shalev with the award in a special ceremony at the Elysee Palace.
  • In 2011, Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev received the City of Jerusalem’s prestigious Patron of Jerusalem Award in recognition of his public activities focused in Israel's capital and on its behalf.[31]

List of notable visitors




Prime Ministers (Head of government)

International organizations

Religious figures


See also


  1. ^ a b Margalit, Avishai (2002). The Ethics of Memory. Harvard University Press. Retrieved 2014-02-25. 
  2. ^ Edrei, Arye (2007-06-07). "Holocaust Memorial". In Doron Mendels. On Memory: An Interdisciplinary Approach. p. 43. ISBN 978-3-03911-064-3. 
  3. ^ Singer, Yehudit (May 6, 2008). "60 Years of Commemorating the Holocaust". ShiurTimes: 36–37. 
  4. ^ Amdur Sack, Sallyann (1995). A guide to Jewish genealogical research in Israel. Avotaynu. p. 67. ISBN 0962637378. 
  5. ^ Jacobs, Daniel; Eber, Shirley; Silvani, Francesca (1998). Israel and the Palestinian Territories: The Rough Guide. Rough Guides. p. 371. ISBN 1858282489. 
  6. ^ Stauber, Roni (2007). The Holocaust in Israeli Public Debate in the 1950s: Ideology and memory. Vallentine Mitchell. p. 99. ISBN 085303723X. 
  7. ^ ETGAR LEFKOVITS; 700+ words. "Jerusalem: Yad Vashem". Retrieved 2014-02-25. 
  8. ^ a b Ser, Sam. "New Yad Vashem museum to emphasize 'human story'". Jerusalem Post/ Retrieved 2014-02-25. 
  9. ^ "Rabbi Israel Meir Lau Appointed Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council". Retrieved 2012-07-21. 
  10. ^ "The International School for Holocaust Studies". Retrieved 2012-04-24. 
  11. ^ About: The Central Database of Shoah Victims Names
  12. ^ The Hall of Names
  13. ^ Our Memory of the Past and for the Future: Based on the Proceedings of an International Forum in Jerusalem, Israel, 15–21 September 2003. Council of Europe. 2005. Retrieved 2014-02-25. 
  14. ^ "International School for Holocaust Studies". Retrieved 2014-02-25. 
  15. ^ Stay informed today and every day (2013-08-24). "Remembering the Holocaust: Bearing witness ever more". Retrieved 2014-02-25. 
  16. ^ Ofer Aderet (2014-02-11). "Yad Vashem finds Muslim clicks on Facebook". Retrieved 2014-09-21. 
  17. ^ "Yoav Stern 'Yad Vashem fires employee who compared Holocaust to Nakba' (23 April 2009) Haaretz"
  18. ^ "Yad Vashem Studies". The International Institute for Holocaust Research. Yad Vashem. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  19. ^ a b Chris McGreal (2005-03-15). "'This is ours and ours alone'". Guardian. Retrieved 2014-02-25. 
  20. ^ Kofi Annan commented at the opening, "The number of Holocaust survivors who are still with us is dwindling fast. our children are growing up just as rapidly. They are beginning to ask their first questions about injustice. What will we tell them? Will we say, 'That's just the way the world is'? Or will we say instead, 'We are trying to change things—to find a better way'? Let this museum stand as a testimony that we are striving for a better way. Let Yad Vashem inspire us to keep striving, as long as the darkest dark stalks the face of the earth." Facing the Consequences of Dividing Israel
  21. ^ Bennett, Barbara Horwitz; 700+ words. "New Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum Opens Tuesday, Jerusalem Post". Retrieved 2014-02-25. 
  22. ^ "Gardens of the Righteous Worldwide - The Yad Vashem Garden of the Righteous". Gariwo. Retrieved 2012-07-24. 
  23. ^ Sanders, Edmund (December 26, 2010). "Holocaust art endures at Israel's Yad Vashem museum". Retrieved 2014-02-25. 
  24. ^ "The Yad Vashem International Book Prize for Holocaust Research 2012". Retrieved 2014-02-25. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Buchman Prize - Yad Vashem Judges' Reasons". Retrieved 2014-02-25. 
  27. ^ "Israel Prize Official Site – Recipients in 1973 (in Hebrew)". 
  28. ^ "Israel Prize Official Site (in Hebrew) – Recipient's C.V. (2003)". 
  29. ^ "Israel Prize Official Site (in Hebrew)- Judges' Considerations for Grant of Prize to Recipient in 2003". 
  30. ^ Yad Vashem Receives Prince of Asturias Award for Concord[dead link]
  31. ^ "Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev to Receive 2011 Patron of Jerusalem (Yakir Yerushalayim) Award". Yad Vashem. 7 March 2011. Retrieved 11 November 2013. 
  32. ^ "Crown Prince of Denmark at Yad Vashem Tomorrow". Yad Vashem. 29 October 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  33. ^ "The President of Chad visiting Yad Vashem.". Yad Vashem. 20 September 1965. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  34. ^ "The President of Mexico visiting Yad Vashem.". Yad Vashem. 7 August 1975. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  35. ^ "The President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat, visiting Yad Vashem.". Yad Vasehm. 20 November 1977. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  36. ^ "The President of West Germany, Richard von Weizsacker visiting Yad Vashem.". Yad Vashem. 8 October 1985. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  37. ^ "Clinton Offers Prayer of Hope During His Visit to Yad Vashem". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 31 October 1994. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  38. ^ "Newsline - January 4, 2000". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 4 January 2000. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  39. ^ "Visit of Croatian President Stipe Mesic to Yad Vashem.". Yad Vashem. 31 October 2001. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  40. ^ "German President Kohler at Yad Vashem Tomorrow". Yad Vashem. 31 January 2005. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  41. ^ "Putin Visits Israel and Tries to Allay Its Security Worries". New York Times. 29 April 2005. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  42. ^ "Polish President at Yad Vashem Tomorrow". Yad Vashem. 11 September 2006. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  43. ^ "President Bush Visits Yad Vashem". The White House. 11 January 2008. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
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  46. ^ "President Josipović visits Yad Vashem.". Office of the President of the Republic of Croatia. 13 February 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  47. ^ "President Obama at Yad Vashem Today". Yad Vashem. 22 March 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  48. ^ "Serbian President at Yad Vashem Tomorrow". Yad Vashem. 28 April 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  49. ^ "Cypriot President at Yad Vashem Tomorrow". Yad Vashem. 5 May 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  50. ^ "Colombian President at Yad Vashem Tomorrow". Yad Vashem. 9 June 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  51. ^ "President of the Czech Republic at Yad Vashem Tomorrow". Yad Vashem. 6 October 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  52. ^ "Nigerian President at Yad Vashem Tomorrow". Yad Vashem. 27 October 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  53. ^ "Polish President at Yad Vashem Tomorrow". Yad Vashem. 3 November 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  54. ^ "President of Guatemala at Yad Vashem Monday". Yad Vashem. 8 December 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  55. ^ "Sri Lankan President at Yad Vashem Tomorrow". Yad Vashem. 8 January 2014. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  56. ^ "Romanian President at Yad Vashem Tomorrow". Yad Vashem. 19 January 2014. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  57. ^ "El Presidente de la República del Perú visitó Yad Vashem el 17 de febero de 2014". Yad Vashem. 2 May 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  58. ^ "The Prime Minister Education Minister of Gambia visiting Yad Vashem.". Yad Vashem. 11 October 1966. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  59. ^ "The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher, visiting Yad Vashem.". Yad Vashem. 25 May 1986. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  60. ^ "The Prime Minister of Greece visiting Yad Vashem". Yad Vashem. 19 May 1992. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  61. ^ "The Prime Minister of Kazakhstan visiting Yad Vashem.". Yad Vashem. 19 May 1992. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  62. ^ "The Prime Minister of Lithuania visiting Yad Vashem.". Yad Vashem. 4 October 1993. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  63. ^ January 2014 "Sanader: Individualisation of Yad Vashem Victims More Powerful than just Plain Figures". Croatian Radiotelevision. 28 June 2005. 
  64. ^ "Besucher aus deutschsprachigen Ländern" (in Deutsch). Yad Vashem. 30 January 2006. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  65. ^ "Georgian Prime Minister at Yad Vashem Tomorrow". Yad Vashem. 23 June 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  66. ^ "Italian Prime Minister at Yad Vashem Monday". Yad Vashem. 30 June 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  67. ^ "Greek Prime Minister at Yad Vashem Tomorrow". Yad Vashem. 7 October 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  68. ^ "Dutch Prime Minister at Yad Vashem Sunday". Yad Vashem. 5 December 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  69. ^ "Canadian Prime Minister at Yad Vashem Tomorrow". Yad Vashem. 20 January 2014. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  70. ^ "Prime Minister of the Czech Republic at Yad Vashem Tomorrow". Yad Vashem. 24 November 2014. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  71. ^ "Visit of Pope John Paul II at Yad Vashem". Yad Vashem. 23 March 2000. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  72. ^ "Visit of Pope Benedict XVI 11/5/2009". 11 May 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  73. ^ "Archbishop of Canterbury Moved During Visit to Yad Vashem". Yad Vashem. 27 June 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  74. ^ "Marlene Dietrich visiting Yad Vashem". Yad Vashem. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 

External links

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