The Yad Vashem Directorate has approved the appointment of former Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel, as Chairman of the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous at Yad Vashem.
Judge Turkel will succeed former Supreme Court Justice Yaakov Maltz, who retired from the position after 10 years. The first Chairman of the Commission was Judge Moshe Landau, followed by Judge Dr. Moshe Bajske. During Judge Maltz’s tenure, some 8,000 people were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations. He volunteered much of his time to the Commission, and often led it through complex discussions, in a dignified way, taking into account the various opinions of Commission members.
Judge Turkel, 70, was born in Israel. He studied law at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and has served on the Shalom Court, as a regional Court judge and as president of the regional court in Be’er Sheva. He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1995, where he served until his resignation a few months ago. Turkel has taught at Ben Gurion University in the Negev, the University of Tel Aviv, and other academic institutions.
Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev is grateful to Judge Maltz for his many years of service, and congratulated Judge Turkel for accepting the position.
The Commission for the Designation of the Righteous Among the Nations is an independent commission that works alongside Yad Vashem. It is composed of researchers, historians, and legal experts, most of whom are Holocaust survivors, and all of whom are volunteers. The autonomous Commission is sovereign and makes decisions in a similar process to a jury. Thus far, by the Commission for the Designation of Righteous Among the Nations has recognized some 21,000 people - non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.
The names of Righteous Among the Nations are engraved on a wall of honor in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem, and receive a medal and certificate of honor and are eligible for honorary citizenship of Israel. Yad Vashem has recently published the first volumes of the Encyclopedia of the Righteous Among the nations.