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September 3, 2014 / 8 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Yad Vashem’

Yad Vashem Recognizes First Peruvian Righteous Gentile

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Yad Vashem recognized its first Righteous Among the Nations from Peru.

Israel’s national Holocaust memorial on Thursday posthumously honored Jose Maria Barreto, a diplomat in Switzerland who used his position to attempt to rescue Jews during the Holocaust. A ceremony for Barreto will be held at a future date, Yad Vashem said in a statement.

As the consul general of Peru in Geneva, Barreto issued 27 Peruvian passports to 58 Jews, including 14 children, even though the government of Peru by 1938 had given instructions to its consulates in Europe not to issue visas to foreign immigrants — with an emphasis on barring Jews in particular.

Barreto was acting on the request of Abraham Silberschein, the head of RELICO, a Jewish relief organization in Switzerland funded by the World Jewish Congress, to issue Peruvian passports for Jews under German occupation.

Silberschein in a letter from August 1943 said, “Mr. Barreto, deeply moved by the suffering of millions of human beings in the occupied countries, wished to participate in helping to alleviate the plight of these innocent people, and decided to agree and provide us with a certain number of passports so that we could send them to different persons in the countries under German control. Mr. Barreto was convinced that by this highly humane deed he would save a number of people.”

That year, the Peruvian foreign minister canceled the passports and ordered the closure of the Peruvian consulate in Geneva. In addition, Barreto was fired and dismissed from Peru’s Foreign Ministry.

Pope Francis Lashes Out at Nazi Murderers During Yad Vashem Visit

Monday, May 26th, 2014

Pope Francis has had a busy day so far in the ancient Old City of Jerusalem.

He began his day on the Temple Mount, in the Al Aqsa Mosque, visiting with the Mufti of Jerusalem and the Waqf Islamic Authority. The pontiff was quoted as telling both, “May we work together for justice and peace.”

Given the violence that has emanated week after week from that quarter towards Christians and Jews alike, that would seem to be a tall order. There is no information about the response of the Arab officials to the Pope’s comments at the mosque. On the first leg of his journey to the Holy Land, yesterday, he made an unscheduled stop at the separation barrier that was built by Israel to prevent suicide bombers from infiltrating and murdering citizens in areas of the country that were under the government’s control prior to 1967.

The Pope was then led to Judaism’s holiest site for prayer by Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch. The Kotel (Western Wall) had been cleared of visitors for security reasons earlier by police. The pontiff bowed his head in prayer with his hand on the ancient stones. He followed those silent moments of communion with the Creator by placing a note in the Wall — an ancient tradition observed by nearly everyone who comes to the Wall — and embraced close Jewish and Muslim friends with him.

Francis met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres and made a quick visit to the Mt. Herzl cemetery where he laid a wreath at the tomb of the ‘father of Zionism,’ Theodore Herzl. He then visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Center in a moving ceremony where he laid a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance and greeted six Holocaust survivors. There the pontiff questioned the role of G-d in the slaughter of the millions of victims murdered by the Nazis.

“The Father knew the risk of freedom, he knew that His children could be lost, yet perhaps not even the Father could imagine so great a fall, so profound an abyss,” he reflected. Having lit the memorial light in the center just minutes before, he compared the Nazi Holocaust to idolatry, and standing before Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, himself a survivor, lashed out against the murderers.

“Who convinced you that you were G-d? Not only did you torture and kill your brothers and sisters, but you sacrificed them to yourself, because you made yourself a god. Today, in this place, we hear once more the voice of G-d: ‘Adam, where are you?’ Hear “L-rd and have mercy,” Francis prayed. “We have sinned against You. You reign for ever.”

The Pope also received from Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev a reproduction of a painting of a Chossid engrossed in prayer created in the Lodz ghetto by a teenage victim of the Holocaust.

He is expected to celebrate Mass at the Cenacle, the upper room in the complex where some believe the tomb of the Biblical King David is located – and where Christians believe the Last Supper took place, sometime before leaving to return to the Vatican in the afternoon hours.

There have been protests against the Pope’s visit to various sites in the Old City of Jerusalem by both Muslim and Jewish groups, both saying the leader of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church is intent on defiling their respective holy places of worship.

Dusty Windows (Part Six)

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

I continue to hear from readers who bemoan the escalation of anti-Semitism throughout the world. Once again Jews are being demonized, though in many cases “Jew” has been replaced by “Israel.”

How do we understand this hateful obsession with Jews? As I’ve been emphasizing these past several weeks in my series of “Dusty Windows” columns, everything in Jewish history is replay, going all the way back to our first bondage in Egypt.

Our sages teach that our forefathers in Egypt merited redemption because they did not alter their Jewish names, mode of dress, or language. These basic values were sadly missing among our assimilated brethren in Europe in the years prior to the Holocaust. It was so common for Jews to have only secular names that one of the Nuremberg Laws mandated that every Jew assume a Jewish name in addition to his secular one – Israel for males and Sarah for females. For example, Eva became Eva Sarah; Oscar became Oscar Israel. Even if a Jew wished to escape his identity, Hitler reminded him that he could not.

As the prophet Ezekiel proclaims, “That which enters your mind shall not be…. Let us be like the nations, like the families of the land. As I live, this is the word of the Lord. Surely I will rule over you with an outstretched arm, with an outpouring of fury.” G-d will not allow us to assimilate even if we so desire. If we refuse to acknowledge we are Jews, there will be those who come forward to remind us.

In a documentary on the Holocaust, a survivor related that when one of the Czech transports arrived at Auschwitz, it was apparent that many of the Jews aboard had deluded themselves into believing their group would be treated differently from the “Ostjuden” (“Eastern Jews,” as the Germans referred derogatorily to Polish Jewry).

Not long after their arrival, the Czech transport was taken to the gas chambers. The survivor reported that when the people realized their fate, they panicked and then broke into spontaneous song. No, not a Jewish song or a Jewish prayer but the Czech national anthem. They sang that song because in the last moments of their lives they felt a need to give voice to their spirit and they knew no other song.

Can there be anything more tragic than to be killed because you’re a Jew and yet not know what it means to be a Jew?

It is not my intention to cast aspersions or judge; I tell this story only so that we may learn from the past and not repeat the tragedy of yesterday.

Think for a moment. If, G-d forbid, our generation today would be called upon to sing a song of faith, what song would the majority sing? How many of our brethren today even know their Jewish names? And what of the other two attributes that rendered our ancestors worthy of redemption – the retention of their Jewish dress and their unique Jewish language? Jewish dress is not reflected only by a tallis and yarmulke but also by modest, dignified clothing for women as well as men. And language means not only prayer and knowledge of the holy tongue but also refraining from speaking lashon hara and other hurtful, vile words.

How different is our generation from those that preceded us? Have we become wiser? Have we learned from our past?

I know there are many committed Jews among us, but there were many in pre-Holocaust Europe as well, and unfortunately that did not change the reality of the multitudes that assimilated, nor does it change it today. We are a nation with one destiny, responsible for one another. This is not my personal belief but the Word of G-d given to us at Sinai.

Survivors (Photo Essay)

Monday, April 28th, 2014

On Sunday evening, April 27, 2014, six Holocaust survivors lit six torches representing the six million Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide during the opening ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem.

Holocaust survivor Asher Oud (R) lights a torch with his grandson during a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 27, 2014. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Holocaust survivor Asher Oud (R) lights a torch with his grandson during a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 27, 2014.
Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Holocaust survivor Zvi Michaeli lights a torch with his grandson during a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 27, 2014. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Holocaust survivor Zvi Michaeli lights a torch with his grandson during a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 27, 2014.
Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Holocaust survivor Dita Kraus lights a torch during a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 27, 2014. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Holocaust survivor Dita Kraus lights a torch during a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 27, 2014.
Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Israeli soldiers stand below a monument as they attend a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day. April 27, 2014. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Israeli soldiers stand below a monument as they attend a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day. April 27, 2014.
Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Jewish Youth from all over the world participating in the March of the Living seen at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp site in Poland, on the eve of the Israeli Holocaust Memorial Day, on April 27, 2014. Photo by Yossi Zeliger/Flash 90.

Jewish Youth from all over the world participating in the March of the Living seen at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp site in Poland, on the eve of the Israeli Holocaust Memorial Day, on April 27, 2014.
Photo by Yossi Zeliger/Flash 90.

A Response to Thomas Friedman: We Need More Sheldon Adelsons

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

In Sunday’s edition of the New York Times, Thomas Friedman wrote a scathing column against Israel’s foremost supporters and lovers. Friedman’s column is a hit piece meant to serve as fodder for some of the NY Times’ anti-Israel and left-wing readership. But instead of delving into the author’s motives for writing the piece, I’d like to examine the various claims he makes.

The thesis of his column is that Sheldon Adelson’s “loving Israel to death” serves Iran’s interests and makes Adelson “Iran’s Best Friend.” What an absolutely pathetic and fallacious claim.

I have the great privilege of knowing Sheldon Adelson personally. There is nobody in the philanthropic arm of the Jewish community that has been a more vocal opponent of Khameini and Iran than Sheldon.

We in the Jewish community know that there are few things Khameini and his ilk hate more than the idea of promoting Jewish continuity and preserving the memory of the Holocaust. On that note, there is nobody who has invested more dollars into both of these initiatives than have Sheldon and Miriam Adelson.

When it comes to promoting Jewish continuity, the Adelsons have served as the principal supporters of Birthright Israel – thereby responsible for sending over 350,000 young Jews from across the world to experience their birthright firsthand. Surely we can agree that Khameini and his adherents seek more than just the delegitimization and destruction of Israel; but also the destruction of the Jewish people.

Then there is the Adelsons’ investment of tens of millions of dollars toward preserving the memory of the Holocaust. They have done this to not only ensure that members of my generation never forget about the slaughtering of 6 million Jews, but to also educate the senseless and intellectually dishonest Jew-haters about the Holocaust, many of whom are found in the Iranian leadership.

It’s no secret that Rouhani is a Holocaust denier. Perhaps Mr. Friedman could please explain how Mr. Adelson’s gift of $25 million to Yad Vashem, the largest in the museum’s history, makes Adelson “Iran’s best friend.” I would instead posit that these two major philanthropic endeavors that the Adelsons have proudly taken upon themselves make Khameini and Rouhani cringe – as they should.

Friedman goes on to talk about the so called “occupied territories” and how the continuation of such a policy under the auspices of the Israeli government is what is truly responsible for the BDS campaign and the world’s increased hostility toward Israel. This is evidence that what Mr. Friedman needs more than anything else is a history lesson.

The West Bank or Judea and Samaria were not lands that Israel conquered through a war of its own choosing. Instead, Israel captured these lands from the actual illegal occupiers of it, the Jordanians, the ones who attacked Israel and forced her into battle there in 1967. The term “occupied territories” is therefore a farce, one designed to delegitimize Israel, much like the BDS campaign and its proponents.

Perhaps Friedman should reassess which team he belongs to; is it the Adelson camp? One that supports and loves Israel to the point of courageously standing against its enemies even when it means being subjected to the wrath of some in the mainstream press. Or instead, does Friedman belong to the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign camp, a camp that does not include supporters of Israel? Should Friedman be counted amongst those working vociferously to delegitimize Israel by continuing to harp on the fallacious claim that the Israelis are “occupiers?”

Mr. Friedman, as a current student of your Alma Mater, Brandeis University, I can tell you with full confidence that the BDS campaign has little to do with the reality of life in the so-called “occupied territories” and is instead rooted in pure Jew hatred. I urge you to visit some college campuses next year during Israel Apartheid Week so that you can witness this first-hand. The folks behind the BDS effort aren’t looking for peace. They are merely anti-Semites trying to conceal their genuine motives through a campaign that folks of your stature have deemed to be, and thereby appear to make, credible.

Dutch Diplomat Killed by Nazis Honored for Saving Jews

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

A Dutch diplomat who died in a Nazi concentration camp will receive Israel’s special honor for non-Jews who helped Holocaust survivors escape the genocide.

The medal and title of Righteous Among the Nations will be conferred posthumously on Joop Kolkman on Monday at a ceremony in The Hague, the Dutch foreign ministry and Israel’s embassy in the Netherlands said in a statement.

Kolkman, a former journalist who served as a diplomat in France when the German army invaded, was connected to several underground networks helping to find safe houses for Jews. He also provided financial assistance for the Jews in hiding and used his contacts with French and German officials to secure the release of several Jewish families from concentration camps.

Kolkman was arrested, interrogated and sent to a Nazi concentration camp, where he died in 1944 at the age of 48, several months before Allied forces liberated his homeland.

He is commemorated with a memorial plaque at the entrance to the headquarters of the Dutch foreign ministry in The Hague. The ministry’s secretary general, Renee Jones, is scheduled to receive the Righteous Among the Nations medal on Monday on behalf of Kolkman from Israel’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Haim Divon.

With over 5,000 recipients, the Netherlands has the highest number of Righteous Among the Nations in Western Europe. Worldwide, the Netherlands — a nation of about 12 million people during World War II — is second only to Poland in the number of people who received the title.

Personal Holocaust, Central Data Base

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

As the population of Holocaust survivors ages, Yad Vashem is turning more of its energies into identifying and memorializing individual victims and archiving stories which show the human side of the Holocaust era. As author Judith Miller has said, we must remind ourselves that the Holocaust was not six million. It was one plus one plus one. Today Yad Vashem is reinventing itself to perpetuate the memory of the Holocaust victims without the first-person presence of the survivors.

In 2000 Yad Vashem opened the Central Database of Shoah Victims Names. There were two goals of this database. Yad Vashem wanted to take the opportunity, while survivors and their children are still alive, to collect as many names of Holocaust victims as possible. In addition to memorializing these people by name the Shoah Victims Names project would enable survivors and their families to view other testimonies and, perhaps, identify family members who had either died at the hands of the Nazis or survived. To date a number of family reunifications have take place due to the database and the attention of the staff members who carefully review all inquiries.

Individuals are invited to submit a page of testimony, based either on their own first-person knowledge or information that was passed on to them by a family member. Pages of Testimony aim to identify people, by name, who were killed during the Holocaust. To review the pages of testimony (for free) a user logs into the database and enters whatever information he knows about the people for whom he’s searching. The database is searchable in different languages and with varying spellings and pronunciations to help zero in on names of people and places.

Yad Vashem has been putting more focus on developing relationships with the Haredi community. The new Yad Vashem museum, opened in 2005, differs from the old museum by including personal testimonies that focus on the experiences of a diverse group of people, many of whom express the fact that they were able to survive the Holocaust — physically, spiritually or both — because of their adherence to religious observance. Whereas in the old museum, the focus was on the scale of the Holocaust, the new museum includes 90 personal stories including stories that detail the challenge of religious observance during the Holocaust. In the words of Mooli Brog, chief knowledge officer at Birthright Israel, “The collectiveness and concentration on symbols in the old exhibition has been exchanged for more individual and personal narratives.”

In addition to the exhibit Yad Vashem now offers special courses for Haredi educators on teaching the Holocaust in their classrooms and gender-separate classes.

At one time Yad Vashem’s Righteous Among the Nations section was mainly concerned with identifying and honoring individuals who had helped Jews survive during the years of WWII. The Righteous Among the Nations distinction was established by Yad Vashem in 1963 as a mechanism by which the State of Israel would recognize individuals who had risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. These included people such as Irena Sendler who sheltered Jews who were hiding from the nazis , provided false papers and false identities, helped Jews to escape and helped Jewish children.

Yad Vashem believes that most of the Righteous Gentiles have been identified and honored, but many of the stories have yet to be properly documented. As part of their personal testimonies project Yad VaShem is putting more effort into recording the stories of the Righteous Among the Nations and publicizing them.

Yad Vashem continues to publish its peer-reviewed semi-annual journal, Yad Vashem Studies, which features thought-provoking articles about the Shoah by leading thinkers and researchers from around the world. The journal aims to engage scholars and encourage multi-disciplinary discussion about a wide range of topics on all aspects of the Shoah with articles, documentary compendia, research reviews and new encyclopedias.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/shiloh-musings/personal-holocaust-central-data-base/2014/01/01/

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