Considered “a national treasure” by the Associated Press, and ranked one of the top museums in the world by TripAdvisor, Yad Vashem – the World Holocaust Remembrance Center – is a must-see for any visitor to Jerusalem. Situated on Jerusalem’s Mount of Remembrance, the 45-acre campus comprises museums, monuments, memorials, gardens and sculptures. A visit to Yad Vashem offers meaningful and dynamic commemoration of the Holocaust and its six million Jewish victims. Here are 10 essential spots to include during your visit to Yad Vashem:
- The Holocaust History Museum – The largest museum of its kind in the world, the Museum depicts the story of the Holocaust from a Jewish perspective, with individual stories highlighting the unfolding historical narrative. Visiting the Museum is a multidisciplinary experience. Through the use of artifacts, testimonies, archival images and more, the Museum opens a window both onto the Jewish world that existed before the Holocaust as well as to the destruction it wrought. At the close of the Museum is the monumental Hall of Names, a domed-shaped room that majestically rises to the ceiling where the pictures of 600 men, women and children, representing the 6 Million Jews murdered in the Shoah, are commemorated. These pictures are reflected in a pool of water dug into the bedrock. Surrounding the pool are binders that include Pages of Testimony recording the names of the 4,700,000 million men, women and children that Yad Vashem has gathered over seven decades.
- The Children’s Memorial – This unique memorial, hollowed out from an underground cavern, is a tribute to the 1.5 million Jewish children who were murdered during the Holocaust. Five memorial candles are reflected infinitely in a dark and somber space, creating the impression of millions of stars shining in the firmament while names of murdered children, their ages and countries of origin are hauntingly recited in the background.
- The Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations – Some 2,000 trees have been planted in and around Yad Vashem, in honor of courageous non-Jews who risked their lives to rescue Jews during the Holocaust. Plaques adjacent to each tree record the names of those being honored along with their country of residence during the war.
- “Flashes of Memory: Photography during the Holocaust” – New in the Exhibitions Pavilion, this display presents a critical account of photographs and films created during the Holocaust by Jewish photographers, German photographers, and members of the Allied forces during liberation. The exhibition focuses a spotlight on the circumstances of the photograph and the worldview of the documenting photographer – both official and private – while emphasizing the different and unique viewpoint of the Jewish photographers as direct victims of the Holocaust.
- “They Say There Is a Land: Longings for Eretz Israel during the Holocaust” – During the 2,000 year exile from their ancestral homeland, the Jewish people expressed their longing for Eretz Israel, the Land of Israel. Artworks, artifacts, diaries, letters and testimonies from the period of the Holocaust highlight theirs hopes and dreams to return to Zion. The exhibition spans the years 1933-1948 – from the rise of the Nazi party to power in Germany, through the outbreak of World War II and the destruction of European and North African Jewry, and until the end of the war and the establishment of the State of Israel. This new exhibition is on display in the Auditorium Exhibitions Hall.
- The Museum of Holocaust Art – The Museum exhibits the world’s largest collection of art created during the Holocaust where artistic endeavor was nearly impossible. In the ghettos, in the camps and in places of hiding, under the most dire conditions, artists used their tools as instruments of defiance and expression. These works represent a living testimony from the Holocaust, as well as a declaration of the victims’ indomitable human spirit that refused to surrender. Some 120 artworks are currently on display.
- The Synagogue – The Yad Vashem Synagogue serves as a memorial to the destroyed places of worship of European Jewry. It is a testimonial to the indestructible faith, the rich spiritual world of European Jewry and the extraordinary will of the Jewish people to survive, to remember and to rebuild. Thirty-one distinct items are on display in the Yad Vashem Synagogue, including four Torah Arks, and various other Judaica from throughout Europe.
- The Valley of the Communities – The Valley of the Communities is a massive 2.5 acre monument dug out of natural bedrock. The names of 5,000 communities are engraved on the stone walls, each name recalling a Jewish community which existed for hundreds of years; for the inhabitants, each community constituted an entire world. Today, in many cases, nothing remains but the name. The names of the communities are engraved on the 107 walls which roughly corresponds to the geographic arrangement of the map of Europe and North Africa.
- Cattle Car – The Memorial to the Deportees This memorial was established at Yad Vashem as a monument to the millions of Jews herded onto cattle cars and transported from all over Europe to the extermination camps. An original German cattle car given to Yad Vashem by the Polish authorities stands at the center of the memorial site. On the adjacent wall, the moving testimony of survivor Avraham Krzepicki is inscribed.
- Hall of Remembrance – The Hall of Remembrance was the first memorial site established on the Mount of Remembrance. Engraved on the mosaic floor are the names of 22 of the most infamous Nazi murder sites, symbolic of the hundreds of extermination and concentration camps, transit camps and killing sites that existed throughout Europe. The focal point of the Hall of Remembrance is the Eternal Flame that continuously illuminates the Hall. Before it stands a crypt containing the ashes of Holocaust victims, brought to Israel from the extermination camps.
As the Jewish people’s living memorial to the Holocaust, Yad Vashem safeguards the memory of the past and connects future generations to this darkest of chapters of our shared history.
Admission to Yad Vashem is free.
Try our drop-in tours in English, every Friday at 10 AM. Only 32 NIS.