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.Jewish Press Staff
Posts Tagged ‘Yad Vashem’
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.Joshua Nass
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.JTA
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.Batya Medad
Pope Francis will make his first official visit to Israel for only 48 hours in late May, Israel media reported Thursday.
The trip is scheduled for May 25-26 and the pope reportedly will conduct mass only in Bethlehem, in the Palestinian Authority, and not in Jerusalem. He probably will probably visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust
The Vatican did not confirm or deny the report, and is spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told the French news agency AFP, “It is in the first instance up to the pope himself to decide upon and to announce such a visit.” He admitted that official have made a preparatory visit to Israel last week.Jewish Press News Briefs
The relative of the first Arab to have been recognized as a Righteous Gentile says that his family is not interested in receiving the award in his name posthumously, blaming the murky relationship between Egypt and Israel.
The Egyptian doctor Mohamed Helmy was honored posthumously last month by Israel’s Holocaust Memorial for hiding Jews in Berlin during the Nazis’ genocide. In cases like these, when the recipient is already departed, the museum attempts to locate their living relatives, so they can be honored in a special ceremony. But a family member tracked down by The Associated Press last week in Cairo said her relatives wouldn’t accept the award, one of Israel’s most prestigious.
“If any other country offered to honor Helmy, we would have been happy with it,” Mervat Hassan, the wife of Helmy’s great-nephew, 66, dressed in a veil, told The Associated.
Or, in other words, why didn’t uncle know better than to go crazy and save those Jews?
I know it must be very scary for the poor woman to realize that she and her family could be penalized by their neighbors, if not by someone in authority, for the bravery of their uncle. So I don’t blame her, but, still, this looks and sounds so pathetic. One wonders what would be the chances of a Jew in today’s Cairo to find shelter with the local gentiles.
A German historian has assisted the Associated Press in obtaining Helmy’s wife’s death certificate—she passed away in Cairo, in 1998. The documentation has revealed that three of the Helmys’ relatives are living in Cairo.
Mervat Hassan said the family didn’t want an award from Israel, but she quickly added: “I respect Judaism as a religion and I respect Jews. Islam recognizes Judaism as a heavenly religion.”
It’s down here, on the planet, that they seem to have most of the trouble with us, most notably our embarrassing tendency not to agree to get killed by the trainloads, a fine Jewish tradition that we no longer practice.
“Helmy was not picking a certain nationality, race or religion to help,” Hassan insisted. “He treated patients regardless of who they were.”
Possibly, except for the facts as they were recorded by those pesky, grateful Jews at Yad Vashem:
When the Nazis began deporting Jews, Dr. Helmy hid 21-year-old Anna Boros, a family friend, at a cabin on the outskirts of the city, and provided her relatives with medical care. After Boros’ relatives admitted to Nazi interrogators that he was hiding her, he arranged for her to hide at an acquaintance’s house before authorities could inspect the cabin. The four family members survived the war and immigrated to the U.S.
He not only saved four Jewish lives, but very much risked his own.
Yad Vashem has the names of other relatives of Helmy that appeared in his will as his heirs, and forwarded this information to the Egyptian ambassador in Israel. Hopefully, when the authorities in Egypt will find them they won’t punish them for the “sins” of their brave uncle.Yori Yanover
Warsaw Ghetto survivor and researcher Israel Gutman has died in Jerusalem at the age of 90. He was born in Warsaw, where he was wounded in the Jewish uprising against the Nazis in 1943. He is survived by two daughters and three grandchildren.
Gutman survived three concentration and death camps, including Auschwitz, but his parents and all of his brothers and sisters died or were killed in the Ghetto. He survived the January 1945 death march from Auschwitz to Mauthausen, where he was liberated by U.S. forces.
Gutman moved to Israel after the war and spent the rest of his life researching the Holocaust. He was the chief historian at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and was a professor of history at Hebrew University.Jewish Press News Briefs