The Valley of the Communities
The Valley of the Communities in Yad Vashem is a massive 2.5 acre monument literally dug out of natural bedrock. Over 5000 names of communities are engraved on the stone walls in the Valley of the Communities. Each name recalls a Jewish community which existed for hundreds of years; for the inhabitants, each community constituted an entire world. Today, in most cases, nothing remains but the name.
The Valley was excavated out of the earth-nothing was built above ground. It is as if what had been built up on the surface of the earth over the course of a millennium-a thousand years of Jewish communal life- was suddenly swallowed up. 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.
The Valley of the Communities was established with the support of the American Society for Yad Vashem.
At the entrance to the Valley is the inscription:
"This memorial commemorates the Jewish communities destroyed by Nazi Germany and its collaborators, and the few which suffered but survived in the shadow of the Holocaust. For more than one thousand years, Jews lived in Europe, organizing communities to preserve their distinct identity. In periods of relative tranquility, Jewish culture flourished, but in periods of unrest, Jews were forced to flee. Wherever they settled, they endowed the people amongst whom they lived with their talents. Here their stories will be told.."