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Articles From the Chairman - Avner Shalev

Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev

Three generations have come into being since the end of World War II. The generation that lived through the Holocaust is dwindling. The presence of witnesses – the remnant who survived – has always ensured a certain moral strength; their increasing absence creates a moral, cultural and educational vacuum. How will Holocaust commemoration remain relevant to members of the fourth and fifth generations, both Jewish and non-Jewish? What place will it occupy when the survivor generation is no longer with us? Will remembrance be meaningful in the context of contemporary events? How should we prepare ourselves at this historic juncture?

We live in an age of instant communication and progressive technology. The world is rapidly advancing through the third millennium under the pressure of an open-market economy, hyper-consumerism, a world communications revolution and a flood of boundary-reducing tourism. However, the benefits to be garnered from the free flow of diverse information are counterbalanced by an unavoidable side effect: the creation of short memories. Many youths today regard history not in the sense of where they have come from, but rather as a bygone series of events that are "past," while they themselves are living "post." This viewpoint is dangerous in that it is disjunctive rather than connective.

In the spirit of the Jewish tradition of "Vehigadeta Lebincha" ("And you shall tell your children"), Yad Vashem places great emphasis on educating the younger generations about the Holocaust. Despite – or perhaps because of – the breakdown of borders and boundaries, today, more than ever before, young people are expressing a keen interest in their own personal history and identity. Yad Vashem is addressing this need by harnessing technology and constantly expanding the horizons of communication to perpetuate the dialogue between past, present and future.

Yad Vashem has always believed in providing youngsters with the history of the Holocaust from a Jewish perspective, while encouraging every visitor to consider the Holocaust's universal dimensions. Yad Vashem's Museum Complex reinforces the commitment of Jewish visitors to their people as well as their ethical brotherhood with other nations; non-Jewish visitors, on the other hand, leave with a greater empathy for the fate of the Jewish people, and are hopefully inspired to join the drive towards a more ethical future for humanity as a whole.

Yad Vashem is a pioneer of Holocaust museums worldwide. By preserving its Jewish character within the universal context, and yet maintaining the authentic individual voice emanating from testimonies, diaries, artifacts and other documentation, Yad Vashem continues to pave the way for a brighter future.

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