Yad Vashem

Yad Vashem

Yad Vashem ( _he. יד ושם also spelled Yad VaShem; "Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority") is Israel's official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust established in 1953 through the "Yad Vashem Law" passed by the Knesset, 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." (Isaiah, chapter 56, verse 5). (A note on orthography: the two nouns in Hebrew, "yad" [memorial/hand] and "shem" [name] are often capitalized in English transliterations; similarly, the Hebrew sign for "and" ["v"] is sometimes lowercased.)

Located at the foot of Mount Herzl on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem, Yad Vashem is a 45-acre 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. Non-Jews who saved Jews during the Holocaust, at personal risk, are honored by Yad Vashem as "Righteous Among the Nations."


The new Holocaust History Museum, opened in March 2005, was built as a prism-like triangular structure. It is 180 meters long, in the form of a spike, which cuts directly through the mountainside. Its stark walls are made of reinforced concrete, and it covers an area of over 4,200 square meters, most of which is underground. At the uppermost edge of the shaft is a skylight, protruding through the mountain edge.

There are 10 exhibition halls, each devoted to a different chapter in the history of the Holocaust. Unlike the exhibition in the old museum, which was primarily composed of photographs, the new exhibition is a multi-media presentation that incorporates survivor testimonies as well as personal artifacts donated to Yad Vashem by Holocaust survivors, the families of those who perished, Holocaust museums and memorial sites around the world. The exhibits are set up chronologically, with the testimonies and artifacts accentuating the individual stories used to highlight the historical narrative throughout the museum.

The museum is designed so the visitor begins above underground, proceeds to the lowest underground point in the center of the museum, and then slowly walks upwards towards the exit. The exit from the main part of the museum is onto a balcony overlooking a stunning view of Jerusalem, the visitor stepping from a dark corridor into direct sunlight (weather and time of day permitting).

Goals and objectives

* Education:
** operating the International School for Holocaust Studies [ [http://www1.yadvashem.org/about_yad/what_new/temp_about_yad/temp_index_about_yad_school.html 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
** teaching about the Holocaust to the general public
* Documentation:
** collecting names of Holocaust victims. The Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names [http://www.yadvashem.org/wps/portal/IY_HON_Welcome] currently holds more than 3.3 million names of Holocaust victims, all accessible online. Yad Vashem continues its project of collecting as many names of Jewish victims as possible.
** collecting photos, documents and resources regarding the Holocaust. The Yad Vashem Archives house some 74 million pages of Holocaust-related documentation and over 350,000 photographs.
** collecting Pages of Testimony memorializing Jewish victims of the Holocaust, [ [http://www1.yadvashem.org/about_yad/departments/pot/home_hall.html The Hall of Names] ] Yad Vashem has so far collected 2.1 million Pages of Testimony.
** recording testimonies of survivors. The Oral History Section of the Yad Vashem Archives currently houses some 46,000 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
** 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
** 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 22,000 individuals.


In 1993, Yad Vashem 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 of commemorating the Holocaust amid the technological advances of the new millennium, while appealing 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 reflect 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 in its exhibitions some 2,500 personal items including artwork and letters from the Holocaust 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 extending ten meters skywards, echoed by a reciprocal well-like cone excavated into the natural 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 2.1 million Pages of Testimony collected so far, 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 [http://www.yadvashem.org] .

Since the 1950s, Yad Vashem has collected approximately 46,000 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 March 15, 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. Leaders from 40 states and former Secretary General of the UN Kofi Annan attended the inauguration of the Holocaust History museum. President of Israel 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." [ Kofi Annan, at the time UN Secretary-General, 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." [http://www.c4israel.org/au/articles/Spring2005/5765_C4INZ-W05-FINAL.pdf Facing the Consequences of Dividing Israel] ]

Righteous Among the Nations

thumb|Memorial to the Victims of the Concentration and Extermination Camps Nandor Glid (1924-1997)Cast BronzeOne 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. As of 2008, more than 22,000 individuals have been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.


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.

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 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 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 2000, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder visited Yad Vashem as a guest of Israeli Premier Ehud Barak and was invited to turn a handle to boost the Eternal Flame.In a much reported diplomatic gaffe he turned the handle the wrong way and extinguished it. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2000/nov/01/1 Hapless Schröder puts out Holocaust flame] ]

In 2003, Yad Vashem was honored with the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement, the State of Israel's most prestigious award. The category of Lifetime achievement was for "a unique contribution to society and the State."

In 2005, in response to a letter by Sa'ar Netanel, a member of the Jerusalem City Council, Avner Shalev, 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. [ [http://www.glbtjews.org/article.php3?id_article=145 New Israel Holocaust Memorial Honors Gay Victims] ]

In September 2007, Yad Vashem received the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord. [ [http://www1.yadvashem.org/about_yad/press_room/temp_index_press_12_09_07.html Yad Vashem Receives Prince of Asturias Award for Concord] ] 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 October 25, 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.

Yad Vashem is the second most visited tourist site in Israel, after the Western Wall, with over one million visitors during 2007.

During 2008, Yad Vashem has already hosted a wide range of VIPs and dignitaries, beginning with US President George W. Bush, 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, 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.

During March 2008, German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel accompanied by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, 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.

ee also

*List of Righteous Among the Nations by country


External links

* [http://www.yadvashem.org/ Yad Vashem website]
* [http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/Flash2.jhtml?itemNo=551967 Interactive tour at Yad Vashem new Holocaust Museum] , Haaretz
* [http://www.spacetime-sensor.de/wallenberg.htm Holocaust Memorial Budapest, testimony from the family Jakobovics in 1947]
* [http://www.raoul-wallenberg.asso.fr/wallenberg_arch/wallenberg_test/karoly_szabo.html Witness: "Karoly Szabo played a determining role among Wallenberg’s supporters"]
* [http://koti.phnet.fi/petripaavola/Bible_YadVaShem.html Yad Vashem memorial site for respect of holocaust victims]
* [http://www.jewishmuseum.info/ Global Directory of Jewish Museums]
* [http://www.gojerusalem.com/SitePage.aspx?siteID=192&FirstCat=Sights&SecCat=Museums&FirstCatVal=120&SecCatVal=27' Yad Vashem information and memorial sites—Go Jerusalem Travel Portal]
* [http://www.ilmuseums.com/museum_eng.asp?id=15 Yad Vashem] at ilMuseums.com
* [http://www.glbtjews.org/article.php3?id_article=145 New Israel Holocaust Memorial Honors Gay Victims]
* [http://www.world-heritage-tour.org/middle-east/north-arabia/dead-sea/israel/yad-vashem/map.html Yad Vashem] at World Heritage Tour (360 degree imaging)

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Yad Vashem —   [jaːd vɑ ʃɛm; hebräisch »ein Denkmal und ein Name«], 1953/57 gegründete Gedenk und Forschungsstätte in Jerusalem zur Erinnerung an die Opfer des Holocaust; im Ohel Jiskor (»Halle der Erinnerung«) sind die Namen von 22 Konzentrations und… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Yad-Vashem — Die Halle der Namen Yad Vashem (gelegentlich auch in der Schreibweise Jad Waschem oder Yad Washem), offiziell: „Gedenkstätte der Märtyrer und Helden des Staates Israel im Holocaust“, ist die bedeutendste Gedenkstätte an die nationalsozialistische …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Yad Vashem — Die Halle der Namen Yad Vashem (gelegentlich auch in der Schreibweise Jad Waschem oder Yad Washem), offiziell: „Gedenkstätte der Märtyrer und Helden des Staates Israel im Holocaust“, ist die bedeutendste Gedenkstätte, die an die… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Yad Vashem — Museo Yad Vashem, en memoria del holocausto, en Jerusalén. Yad Vashem (del hebreo יָד וָשֵׁם, «monumento y nombre»; apócope de su nombre completo, («Yad Vashem», el Ente para el Recuerdo de los Mártires y Héroes del Holocausto»), es la… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Yad Vashem — Mémorial de Yad Vashem Sculpture au mémorial de Yad Vashem. Une sculpture semblable est exposée au Camp de concentration Nazi de Dachau Le mémorial de Yad Vashem (יד ושם) est un mémorial israélien à Jérusalem, en mémoire des victimes juives d …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Yad Vashem —    The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, Israel’s national institution of Holocaust commemoration, is located in Jerusalem. Yad Vashem was established by an act of the Knesset (parliament) on 18 May 1953. Yad Vashem was… …   Historical dictionary of the Holocaust

  • Yad Vashem — /yahd vah shem /, Hebrew. 1. the official authority in Israel for the commemoration of the Holocaust and its victims. 2. the memorial shrine administered by this authority. Also, Yad va Shem. * * * …   Universalium

  • Yad Vashem — /yahd vah shem /, Hebrew. 1. the official authority in Israel for the commemoration of the Holocaust and its victims. 2. the memorial shrine administered by this authority. Also, Yad va Shem …   Useful english dictionary

  • Yad Vashem — (Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Authority)    The official Israeli authority to commemorate the heroes and martyrs who died in the Holocaust. The name, meaning monument and memorial, is derived from the Bible. The authority was created… …   Historical Dictionary of Israel

  • Yad Vashem — n. Israel s official memorial and museum in Jerusalem commemorating the Holocaust and its victims …   English contemporary dictionary

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