Newsletter No. 24,  February  2012

What's New  |  Spotlight on the Web  |  Recent Events  |  Names Recovery  |  News Highlights  |  With Your Support

What's New

Seminars Wing Opens to Meet Rising Demand

New Seminars Wing Opened

The new International Seminars Wing of the International School for Holocaust Studies opened on January 30, in the presence of Israel's Minister of Education, Gideon Sa'ar and Foreign Minister of Canada, John Baird. Generously supported by Joseph Gottdenker of Canada along with Friends of Yad Vashem worldwide, the wing adds 45,000 square feet of space to the International School, and provides state-of-the-art facilities, including the new Edmond J. Safra Lecture Hall, to meet the ever-expanding demand for educational seminars for teachers and public opinion-shapers from Israel and around the globe.  The wing incorporates eleven new classrooms, a videoconference suite and  conference rooms, as well as a 330-seat lecture hall, donated by the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation, which will greatly enrich the quality of the many large-scale events and seminars run by the School.


New in the Exhibitions Pavilion

Painting for Posterity

On January 23, 2012 the exhibition "Last Portrait: Painting for Posterity" opened in advance of International Holocaust Remembrance day.  The exhibition, on display in the Exhibitions Pavilion at Yad Vashem until Fall 2012, presents some 200 portraits from Yad Vashem's Art Collection that were drawn by 21 artists of varied origins and backgrounds.  The artists labored to preserve images of their friends and loved ones for posterity. For many of the subjects, the artists' record of their faces, moments before death, is their final portrait. Each portrait in the exhibition joins together three stories: the artist's, the subject's, and that of the work itself. In addition to the biography of each artist, also noted, wherever possible, are the special circumstances in which the portraits were made and how the artist succeeded in procuring art supplies despite the severe shortages of food and other basic necessities.

Symposium Marks 70 Years Since Wannsee

Symposium - The Wannsee Conference

On January 23, the International Institute for Holocaust Research held  a special symposium marking 70 years since high-level German leaders met in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee on January 20, 1942 to discuss the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question in Europe.” The symposium, entitled “The Wannsee Conference: The Organization of the Operation to Murder the Jews and its Significance,” was held in the presence of Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein and the Diplomatic Corps in Israel, with the participation of Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, and expert lecturers on the topic. The symposium was generously funded by the Gutwirth Family Fund.

2011 International Book Prize Awarded

2011 International Book Prize

The 2011 winners of the Yad Vashem International Book Prize for Holocaust Research in memory of Abraham Meir Schwarzbaum, Holocaust survivor, and his family members murdered in the Holocaust are Prof. Christopher Browning (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) for Remembering Survival: Inside a Nazi Slave-Labor Camp, and Prof. Daniel Blatman (Hebrew University) for The Death Marches: The Final Phase of Nazi Genocide. During the ceremony, which was attended by Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev and Sabina Schwarzbaum, the daughter of Abraham Meir Schwarzbaum, the two prizewinners spoke about their books.


Spotlight on the Web

Close to 2,000 Attend Special Online Event

I Honor Wall

Yad Vashem held  special online event on its Facebook page the week of International Holocaust Remembrance Day automatically linking the participant’s profile to the name and story of a Righteous Among the Nations. The “I Honor Wall” was created as 2012 begins 50 years of recognition of Righteous Among the Nations, and provides a meaningful way for people to connect online to a specific individual and learn their story. Over 1,900 people took part in this unique event, finding a personal way to be part of this international commemorative effort.

Online Exhibition; The Community of Plonsk

On the eve of WWII, Plonsk, situated on the Plonka River some 60 km northwest of Warsaw, was home to some 5,000 Jews – about half of the city's total population. This was a community of workmen, tradesmen and Torah scholars, Hassidim, Mitnagdim and Zionists. On  September 1, 1939, the Germans invaded Poland, and on September they conquered Plonsk. On December 16, 1942, the last of the Jews of Plonsk were sent to Auschwitz. Out of all the Jews living in Plonsk when the Germans invaded, only a few dozen survived the Shoah.  One of the special features of this new online exhibition is a specially created short video entitled "Benind the Scenes: Plonsk - Identifying a Town."  Careful research led to the correct identification of Plonsk as the town in a 1940 film.  As a result, the film itself now provides important visual testimony on the life of the Jews in Plonsk at the time of the Nazi occupation.

Recent Events

Yad Vashem Exhibitions on Display at UN Headquarters

A Monument of Good Deeds

A new  traveling exhibition chronicling stories of children during the Holocaust officially opened at the UN Headquarters on January 26, 2012.  "A Monument of Good Deeds: Dreams and Hopes of Children During the Holocaust" is intended for a younger audience, educating them about the events of the Holocaust through the perspective of children just like them. The exhibition is based on the idea of an empty classroom, with the stories displayed on 13 “chalkboards.” The drawings, poems, diaries and made-up games hint that the children will shortly return, but the real story appears when approaching the boards. Each board encapsulates the child’s life before the Holocaust, as well as the horror and fear they encountered, and the eventual great loss they experienced. Some of the chalkboards offer interactive experiences, enabling hands-on participation in the exhibition. The Exhibition will be on display at UN Headquarters through February 27, 2012.

Keeping the Memory Alive

A new international poster design project, “Keeping the Memory Alive,” encourages art students around the globe to reflect on their own interpretation of Holocaust remembrance in advance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Pioneered by the International School for Holocaust Studies, the project was carried out under the grant program of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research (ITF). Yad Vashem, Le Mémorial de la Shoah (France) and the European Shoah Legacy Institute (Czech Republic).  Each held seminars for graphic artists and design students, who were then invited to submit a poster to the competition. The posters have been adapted into a special exhibit to be displayed in all 31 ITF member-states during January 2012. In partnership with The Holocaust and United Nations Outreach Programme, the poster exhibit opened on 26 January at the UN Headquarters, and all 73 UN Public Information offices around the globe displayed the exhibit on January 27, 2012. 

Names Recovery

Yad Vashem Jerusalem

The winter edition of Yad Vashem Jerusalem is now available online.  Read about the expansive new international seminars wing of the International School for Holocaust Studies, and meet some of the educators who have had enriching experiences at the School.  Discover a unique ongoing research project of excavations at the Sobibor death camp and read about a touching reunion story thanks to the Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names.  Also highlighted is the new exhibition "Last Portrait: Painting for Posterity" as well as a special and personal item received during the continuing Gathering the Fragments campaign, recent events, new publications, and more. 

News Highlights

Teaching the universal lessons of the Shoah to the world, in the Jerusalem Post
Yad Vashem Expands to Cater for Huge Appetite for Holocaust Understanding, in the International Business Times
A truly inspiring story, in the Jerusalem Post
In Israel, gathering fragments of the Holocaust, in the Washington Post
Survivor donates prized prayer book to Yad Vashem, in the Jerusalem Post
Yad Vashem honors French Righteous Among the Nations on Wednesday, on EJP
Holocaust memorial honours individuals from all countries who risked their lives, in the Globe and Mail

With Your Support

A Moving Bar/Bat Mitzvah Experience

At the age of 16, Sala Kirschner was sent to a labor Camp in Geppersdorf. Five years later, after working as a slave in seven different labor camps, only she and two of her sisters remained alive, out of an extended family of fifty. Her daughter, Dr. Ann Kirschner, immortalized Sala's story in the book Sala's Gift: My Mother's Holocaust Story.  

On January 26, 2012, the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Sala stood beside her granddaughter, Yael, as she included in her Bat Mitzva events in Israel a particularly moving and meaningful ceremony at the Yad Vashem Synagogue.  Thus, on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem, accompanied by her grandmother, Holocaust survivor Sala Kirschner, as well as her grandfather, her parents, David and Marla Kirschner, her brother and sister, aunts and uncles, including her aunt, Dr. Ann Kirschner, Yael Kirschner became a link in the eternal chain of Jewish continuity.

Yad Vashem offers a variety of options marking a Bar or Bat Mitzvah at Yad Vashem.  Contact us so we can personally assist you in planning a moving event for this special occasion. For further details, please contact: