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French President Sarkozy to Present Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev with Légion dHonneur

Elysee ceremony to honor the person who has turned Yad Vashem into a place of renown, of mutual exchange for younger generations of all backgrounds and cultures

24 September 2007

Next month, the Chairman of Yad Vashem, Avner Shalev, will receive the Légion d’Honneur from President Nicolas Sarkozy of France. The letter notifying Shalev of the award, states: “This prestigious distinction is presented to you for your extraordinary work on behalf of Holocaust remembrance worldwide. This is a reward for a man of peace, tolerance and sincerity, the person who has turned Yad Vashem into a place of renown, of mutual exchange for younger generations of all backgrounds and cultures.” The decoration will be presented at a special ceremony hosted by President Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace on October 25, 2007.

Avner Shalev was appointed Chairman of Yad Vashem in 1993. From the beginning of his tenure, Shalev has striven to redefine Holocaust remembrance and education, introducing a far-reaching multiyear redevelopment plan. This has included opening an International School for Holocaust Studies, enlarging Yad Vashem’s archives and research facilities, and building a new Museum Complex. He is Chief Curator of the new Holocaust History Museum that opened in March 2005.

Just a few days ago, Yad Vashem received the prestigious international Prince of Asturias Award for Concord. Yad Vashem was chosen from among 47 nominees from 28 countries. The award ceremony will take place on October 26, 2007 in Oviedo, Spain in the presence of the Spanish Royal Family. Last year, UNICEF won the 50,000 Euro prize in the same category.

In response to being awarded both honors, Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev said, “In addition to expressing a recognition of the importance of Yad Vashem’s work around the world, these prestigious international awards also express a deep understanding that the memory of the Shoah - the murder of the Jews that took place in the center of Europe - has profound significance and meaning for the coexistence of the family of nations, today, and throughout the ages.”