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Yad Vashem Launches New Comprehensive Multi-Year Program with Support of the Genesis Philanthropy Group to Increase Holocaust Awareness Among Russian Speakers

14 June 2009

Pictured (right to left) Stan Polovets, Pyotr Aven, Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev, Mikhail Fridman, German Khan, Foreign Minister Liberman, Minister Edelstein, and Special Advisor to the Chairman of Yad Vashem Arie Zuckerman<br>Photo: Isaac Harari Pictured (right to left) Stan Polovets, Pyotr Aven, Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev, Mikhail Fridman, German Khan, Foreign Minister Liberman, Minister Edelstein, and Special Advisor to the Chairman of Yad Vashem Arie Zuckerman
Photo: Isaac Harari

Yad Vashem, the Holocaust remembrance and education center in Jerusalem, is launching a comprehensive new program aimed at raising the awareness and deepening knowledge of the Holocaust among Russian speakers. The new initiative is made possible by a four-year, $4 million grant from the Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG), a foundation dedicated to promoting Jewish identity for Russian-speaking Jews around the world.

The grant will promote inter-disciplinary projects in formal and informal education, research and publications, archival documentation, Internet outreach, exhibitions organization, and Righteous Among the Nations from the areas of the Former Soviet Union.

The efforts to encourage meaningful education and commemoration of the Holocaust among Russian speakers are crucial, since the Holocaust is an important building block of Jewish identity, and a historical event that continues to reverberate among young people today, said Avner Shalev, Chairman of Yad Vashem. Unfortunately due to the historical circumstances, the study of the Holocaust in the areas of the Former Soviet Union has been underdeveloped over the years. The grant from Genesis will allow us to focus more intensively on this critical aspect of Holocaust education.

The Holocaust is a key issue that touches every Jew, even those who never experienced it within their own families, said Stan Polovets, CEO and one of the five founders of GPG. This tragedy with all the attached sorrow gives a deeper insight into Jewish history, teaches us about the wider perspective of Judaism, helping to strengthen Jewish identity among the Russian-speaking Jews and the sense of belonging to the Jewish people.

Among the programs to be included in the initiative is a project to work with formal and informal educators in Russian-speaking communities in Israel to broaden Holocaust education in the schools and community centers. Each year, Yad Vashems International School for Holocaust Studies will focus on two Israeli cities with large Russian speaking populations. Through seminars for educators and students, activities in community centers, and working with Holocaust survivors and World War II veterans, Holocaust education will be intensified throughout the community.

In addition, further effort will be spent on development and maintenance of the Russian language online interactive portal, containing documents, images, educational units and the interactive program Children in the Ghetto.

Another key aspect of the new program is the establishment of a special chair, within the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem, dedicated to advancing research of the Holocaust in the Former Soviet Union.

About Yad Vashem

Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Authority, was established by the Knesset in 1953. Located in Jerusalem, it is dedicated to Holocaust remembrance, documentation, research and education. Through the International School for Holocaust Studies, the International Institute for Holocaust Research, the Archives, the Library, the Hall of Names, and its museums and memorials, Yad Vashem seeks to meaningfully impart the legacy of the Shoah for generations to come. Drawing on the memories of the past, Yad Vashem aims to strengthen commitment to Jewish continuity and protect basic human values.

About the Genesis Philanthropy Group

The mission of Genesis Philanthropy Group is to develop and enhance Jewish identity among Russian-speaking Jews worldwide, with a particular emphasis on the former Soviet Union, North America, and Israel. GPG is committed to supporting and launching projects, programming, and institutions that are focused on ensuring that Jewish culture, heritage, and values are preserved in Russian-speaking Jewish communities across the globe. The foundation was established in the summer of 2007 by Mikhail Fridman, German Khan, Pyotr Aven, Alex Knaster, and Stan Polovets. In the past 2 years, GPG has made over 30 grants, which included gifts to organizations such as Birthright Israel, Moscow State University, the IDF Education Department, Limmud, Maccabi, and the New York Jewish Museum. Its most recent grants include $4.4 million to The Foundation for Jewish Camp and $10.9 million to Brandeis University. www.gpg.org