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President Bush at Yad Vashem Friday

10 January 2008

United States President George W. Bush will visit Yad Vashem on Friday, January 11, 2008. Yad Vashem will be closed to the public on Friday. Coverage of the President’s visit is POOL only; details have been issued separately.

During his visit to Yad Vashem, the President, guided by Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev, will visit the Holocaust History Museum, and the Museum of Holocaust Art, hold a wreath-laying ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance, and visit the Children’s Memorial. He will be accompanied by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, President Shimon Peres, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council Joseph (Tommy) Lapid.

Yad Vashem, the Holocaust remembrance and education center in Jerusalem, was established by the Knesset in 1953. Located on the Mount of Remembrance, Yad Vashem is dedicated to Holocaust remembrance, documentation, research and education. The Holocaust History Museum opened in March 2005, culminating a decade long redevelopment plan that has prepared Yad Vashem to meet the challenges of the next century. The Museum seeks to tell the story of the Holocaust from the Jewish personal perspective, via artifacts, testimonies, archival material, artwork and more. At the end of the Holocaust History Museum is the Hall of Names, where Pages of Testimony recording the details of Jews murdered in the Holocaust are kept. Yad Vashem has thus far been able to recover some 3.3 million names; efforts are underway to recover the identities of the remaining unknown millions. The Museum of Holocaust Art displays art created during the Holocaust - whether in the ghettos, in hiding or in the camps.

During the wreath-laying ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance, the President will rekindle the Eternal Flame, and lay a wreath on a stone slab under which are ashes of victims from the Holocaust brought from the concentration and extermination camps. The Hall of Remembrance is the main memorial site at Yad Vashem, where official memorial ceremonies are held. At the ceremony, President Bush will be accompanied by Yad Vashem Chairman Shalev, Prime Minister Olmert, President Peres, and Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council Lapid. The Ankor Children’s Choir will perform “Walk to Caesarea” and Cantor Asher Hainowitz will recite a Jewish prayer for the dead, El Maleh Rachamim.

Following the Hall of Remembrance ceremony, the President will visit the Children’s Memorial, in memory of the 1.5 million Jewish children murdered in the Holocaust. At the exit to the Children’s Memorial, the President will sign the Guest Book. At the conclusion of his visit, Shalev will present President Bush with a special gift, a replica of illustrations from the Bible, by Jewish artist Carol Deutsch. The original is on display in the Museum of Holocaust Art. Recently Yad Vashem decided to produce a special, numbered series of the portfolio limited to 500 copies, the first of which will be presented to the President. Deutsch created the works while in hiding in Belgium. He was informed upon, and died in 1944 in Buchenwald, leaving behind 99 vividly colored paintings in an illustrated wooden box, which he bequeathed to his daughter Ingrid. Details of Carol Deutsch’s story are available at: http://www1.yadvashem.org/about_yad/magazine/magazine_47/pdf/p10-11.pdf