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Remembrance

The Voice of the Survivors

Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day 2010

"Unto Every Person There is a Name"

Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day
12 April 2010 – 28 Nissan 5770

Letter from the International Committee “Unto Every Person There Is A Name”

Introduction
Six million Jews, among them one-and-a-half million children, were murdered in the Shoah while the world remained silent. The worldwide Holocaust memorial project “Unto Every Person There is a Name”, now in its twentieth consecutive year, is a unique project designed to perpetuate their memory as individuals and restore their identity and dignity, through the public recitation of their names on Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day. By personalizing the individual tragedies of the Jewish victims of Nazi Germany and its collaborators, this project counters persistent efforts by enemies of the State of Israel and the Jewish people to deny the reality of the Holocaust and cast it as history’s seminal hoax. “Unto Every Person” also defies attempts to universalize this genocide and cast off its principal characteristic as a unique calamity of the Jewish people, while also building appreciation of the Shoah's tragic impact on the Jewish reality until today.

A World-Wide Effort
“Unto Every Person There Is A Name” is conducted around the world in hundreds of Jewish communities through the efforts of four major Jewish organizations: B’nai B’rith International, Nativ, the World Jewish Congress and the World Zionist Organization.

The project is coordinated by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, in consultation with the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and enjoys the official auspices of President of the State of Israel, the Hon. Shimon Peres (see President’s letter, Annex I).

In Israel, “Unto Every Person There Is A Name” has become an integral part of the official Yom Hashoah commemoration ceremonies, with the central events held at the Knesset and at Yad Vashem with the participation of elected officials, as well as events throughout the country.

Personalizing the Holocaust
The International Committee of “Unto Every Person There is A Name” takes pride in the fact that its raison d’être – advocating the personalization of the Jewish tragedy – has gained wide recognition in Israel and around the Jewish world as hundreds of Jewish communities now participate in this project. As time passes and fewer witnesses remain, it is of great importance to create a personal link between the Jewish people today and those who were murdered under the Nazi genocidal regime. Ceremonies in which names of Holocaust victims are recited together with such information as age, place of birth and place of death, personalize the tragedy of the Holocaust. Emphasis is thus put on the millions of individuals – men, women and children who were lost to the Jewish people and not solely on the cold intangibility embodied in the term “The Six Million”.

Collecting the Names – The Yad Vashem Database
As part of its efforts to counter these developments, Yad Vashem- Israel's Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority - continues this year to expand the Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names that has been painstakingly built with the cooperation of Jewish communities and organizations since the 1950s. To date, over half of the six million victims have been recorded and memorialized in the online Names Database at www.yadvashem.org, where one may access their brief histories and, when available, their photographs, and submit additional names. With nearly half the victims’ names still missing, it is incumbent upon us today, to recover them before the generation that remembers is no longer with us.

“Unto Every Person There is a Name” events provide a unique opportunity to continue the quest to collect the names of all the Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust, and should be utilized to call upon members of your community to complete a “Page of Testimony” for each unregistered victim, or to volunteer to assist others with this urgent task. Participants in “Unto Every Person there is a Name” are urged to join Yad Vashem’s global network of volunteers collecting the names of all the Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust by recording their names, biographical details and photographs on Pages of Testimony. New online resources are available to enhance outreach efforts. (See Annex II for further details.)

“The Voice of the Survivors” – Central theme for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 2010/5770
This year’s central theme for Yom Hashoah is “The Voice of the Survivors”, focusing on the many different ways survivors have contributed to Holocaust remembrance and commemoration over the years. Since the end of World War II and even before, survivors of the Holocaust have been key to keeping alive the memory of lost communities, families and individuals murdered in the Shoah.

Their testimonies told personally, written and recorded are a vital source for much that we know today about the Holocaust and are a clarion call to successive generations to keep this memory alive into the future. Through their voices the survivors have kept the commandment to remember the past and teach it to future generations (Only take heed to thyself…lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life; but make them known unto thy children and thy children's children” (Deuteronomy 4:9). On this Yom Hashoah we pay tribute to the Holocaust survivors - those who have, despite the pain, shared their stories so that we should all remember and learn the lessons of mankind’s darkest hour, and those who have devoted their lives to the cause of Holocaust commemoration, whether through education, research, literature, music, art, or other channels 
(For texts on this year’s theme which can be used in ceremonies, please see Annex III)

In light of this year’s theme, the International Committee encourages the organizers of each “Unto Every Person There is a Name” ceremony to invite a survivor to share their memories and impressions. In case this is not possible, Yad Vashem has also made a number of filmed testimonies available for use at ceremonies, both on a CD ROM  and downloadable from the Internet,   use of which would be an important and moving addition to any ceremony.

An opportunity for reflection
While Yom Hashoah focuses our attention each year on the victims of the Holocaust, it also inherently provides an opportunity for us to reflect on contemporary forms of antisemitism and recommit ourselves to counter them.

2009 saw a dramatic increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Western Europe, as well as a sharp rise in the number of acts of violence against Jews. These developments demand vigilance on the part of the Sate of Israel and Jewish communities around the world and illustrate again that the dark anti-Jewish prejudice which motivated the Holocaust is still alive in Europe and elsewhere, reinvigorated by large Moslem populations that have imported the Israel-Palestinian conflict into these arenas.

Recitation ceremony planning recommendations
1. Outreach: The International Committee urges organizers of “Unto Every Person” ceremonies to invite all Jewish organizations and institutions in their community, including schools, synagogues of the various streams and community centers, and Israeli diplomatic representatives, to take an active part in the name recitation ceremonies and in the Names Recovery Campaign. The Committee specifically requests that the four sponsoring organizations be actively engaged in each ceremony and that all local agencies cooperate to make the ceremony as inclusive and meaningful as possible. The Committee also recommends that non-Jewish groups and leaders in the larger community be invited to participate in the recitation ceremonies, which can be held in an appropriate public setting. Local and national media, especially television, should be encouraged to cover the ceremonies. Any visual products from the ceremony should be sent to Yad Vashem in order to be archived and exhibited in the future.

2. Family names retrieval: We urge you to encourage members of your community to search for names of relatives and friends who were victims of the Holocaust, to compile your own personal and local lists of names and family members for commemoration, and to submit names to Yad Vashem's Database (see above).

3. Names recovery campaign: Should you choose to utilize the ceremony to kick-off a names recovery campaign, please refer to Yad Vashem’s Outreach Guide for new resources. Packed with tips and materials, including short movie clips and print-quality files of promotional materials, this resource will enable Jewish communities and educators to plan and implement meaningful programs, names collection events and related activities around Yom Hashoah and throughout the year. 

4. Ceremony requirements: The recitation ceremonies require coordination and planning but involve very little expenditure. Basic requirements for the ceremony are:

  • Poem “Unto Every Person There Is A Name” by Israeli poet Zelda (Annex V)
  • Lists of names
  • Pages of Testimony
  • Yizkor and El Maleh Rahamim prayer texts
  • Six Yizkor candles
  • A sound system
  • Professional-standard video equipment. (The organizing committee intends to produce a film of this year’s ceremonies. Please submit materials to area referents below)
  • A table or podium covered in black
  • Sufficient volunteers to recite names
  • Master of Ceremonies

We are available to answer any questions that might arise and provide additional material as necessary to ensure the success of your event.

Sincerely,
Members of the “Unto Every Person There Is A Name” International Committee:
Rachel Barkai, Alexander Avraham (Yad Vashem); Alan Schneider (B’nai B’rith International); Laurence Weinbaum (World Jewish Congress); Naftaly Levy (World Zionist Organization); Aviva Raz Schechter (Israel Foreign Ministry); Ambassador Yaacov Rozen (Israel Foreign Ministry); Ritta Tarlow (Nativ) and Ariela Malka (Knesset).
Project Initiator: Haim Roet

Referents: Yad Vashem
Rachel Barkai, Commemoration and Public Relations; Ossi Kupfer, Project Coordinator; Alexander Avraham, Hall of Names
POB 3477, Jerusalem 9103401, Israel
Tel. (972)-2-6443574; Fax (972)-2-6433569 ; general.information@yadvashem.org.il

For more information about the Shoah Victims' Names Recovery Project contact:
Cynthia Wroclawski, Manager
The Shoah Victims' Names Recovery Project
Yad Vashem, POB 3477
Jerusalem, 9103401 ISRAEL
Tel: 972-2-644-3470
cynthia.wroclawski@yadvashem.org.il

For North America
Rhonda Love
B’nai B’rith International Center for Programming
801 Second Avenue, 14th Floor, New York,  NY  10017
Tel: (212)-490-3290; Fax: (212)-687-3429
Rlove@bnaibrith.org

For Eastern Europe
Dr. Laurence Weinbaum
World Jewish Congress
POB 4293, Jerusalem 91042, Israel
Tel: (972)–2-6333000 Fax. (972)-2-633 3011
Laurence@wjc.co.il

For Western Europe, Latin America, Australia
Naftaly Levy
WZO Department for Zionist Activities
POB 92, Jerusalem, Israel
Tel: (972)-2-6202262; Fax (972)-2-6204099
naftalil@wzo.org.il

For the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Aviva Raz Schechter
Department for Antisemitism and Holocaust Issues
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem, Israel
Tel: (972)-2-5303696; Fax: (972)-2-5303159
avivar@mfa.gov.il

For the Former Soviet Union
Ritta Tarlow
Nativ
8 Hamelacha St., POB 21609
Tel Aviv 67251, Israel
Tel: (972) 3 5639730; Fax: (972) 3 5614223
rittat@nativ.gov.il

Annex II

Expanded Global Activity To Recover Names of Shoah Victims

Yad Vashem’s Shoah Victims’ Names Recovery Project has stepped up its worldwide efforts to recover the names of Shoah victims before they are lost to us forever. The aim of the project is to memorialize each individual Jew murdered in the Holocaust by recording their names, biographical details and photographs on Pages of Testimony. To learn more about the project click here. Participants of “Unto Every Person there is a Name” are invited to distribute Pages of Testimony at names recitation ceremonies on Yom Hashoah and to join our global network of volunteers.

To date, 3.8 million victims have been identified and memorialized in the Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names (www.yadvashem.org). As the generation of Shoah survivors recedes into history each name or additional piece of new information becomes an invaluable tool to help piece together the puzzle of the fate of Holocaust era Jews. It is incumbent upon the Jewish world to take part in Yad Vashem’s colossal efforts to record the names of the Jewish Victims of Nazism and bear witness to the lives of our murdered brethren.

We invite you to view our Pages of Testimony Tutorial video, which we created to demonstrate how to help survivors and others from their generation to fill out Pages of Testimony and memorialize Jews they know of who were murdered in the Holocaust. The video presents a volunteer visiting with two women in their homes to assist them in recalling and recording the names of Shoah victims on Pages of Testimony. The video is ideal for screening at volunteer training sessions or to provide tips and insight for individuals wishing to embark on this project.

In addition we urge you to make use of a variety of ONLINE RESOURCES designed to enhance your outreach efforts and help you plan and implement your Names Recovery campaign. Packed with tips and materials, short movie clips and print-quality files of promotional materials, our community outreach guide will enable Jewish communities and educators to plan and implement meaningful memorial programs, names collection events and related activities around Yom Hashoah and throughout the year. 

Promotional posters and CDs are now available in English, Hebrew or Russian. Display the posters together with Pages of Testimony (available in a number of languages on the Yad Vashem website) to advertise the ongoing campaign to collect Holocaust victims’ names. To order please send your name, mailing address and phone number, stating how many you require to: names.proj@yadvashem.org.il with subject header: “Materials Order.”

Conditions permitting, you may screen the video of the heartwarming story (available on the online Community Outreach Guide) of Hilda Glasberg, who after a lifetime of believing that most of her immediate family had perished in the Holocaust, was reunited with her brother Simon Glasberg after 65 years. The reunion took place after Hilda’s grandchildren searched The Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names in an effort to piece together the puzzle of their family’s fate.

In addition, you are invited to view a new trilogy of documentary films produced by Boris Maftsir, director of the Shoah Victims' Names Recovery Project in the Occupied Territories of the Former Soviet Union. These short movies depict the pain of Shoah remembrance through the stories of those who miraculously survived impending death. The films aim to convey the personal and collective importance of commemorating the names of Shoah victims. To order copies of the films on DVD please contact names.proj@yadvashem.org.il.

Educators may make use of the "The Stories Behind the Names", lesson plans that utilize pictures and information from Pages of Testimony, to teach about the people and communities the Nazis destroyed click here.  The material is geared to varying age groups and focuses on the meaning and importance of commemoration through Pages of Testimony, as well as the practical aspects of collecting and completing them.

Video for Memorial Names Recitation Ceremony
We invite you to make use of this short video and accompanying text for a memorial names recitation ceremony.

New Video on Holocaust Victims' Commemoration:
Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council, drawing on biblical sources, delivers an inspirational drasha (homily) on the importance of commemorating the Jews who were murdered during the Shoah. Rav Lau, himself a child survivor of Buchenwald, powerfully calls upon Jews across the world, to join Yad Vashem's efforts to recover the names of each individual Shoah victim by filling out Pages of Testimony in their memory and submitting them to Yad Vashem. This is a race against time. Act now before those who still remember them are gone forever.

Annex IV

Unto Every Person There is a Name: An opportunity for reflection on Contemporary Antisemitism
A report released in January by the Task Force on Anti-Semitism, coordinated by the Jewish Agency, found that 2009 saw the highest number of anti-Semitic incidents in Western Europe since World War II.  More anti-Semitic incidents took place in Western Europe during the first three months of 2009 than in all of 2008.  During the first half of the year alone, 631 incidents of anti-Semitism occurred in France (as opposed to 474 throughout 2008), and over 600 in Great Britain.  In just the first two months of 2009, approximately one hundred anti-Semitic incidents took place in the Netherlands, whereas a similar number of such incidents occurred in the country throughout 2008.

Hundreds of these incidents were violent and severe, and include two murders: The murder of a Jewish student in Connecticut, and the killing of an American security guard during an anti-Semitic assault on the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.
A particularly prominent phenomenon that developed over the course of the year was the use of a modern-day blood libel to undermine the legitimacy of the State of Israel – a throw back to the blood libels of the Middle Ages that sought to dehumanize Jews and justify their persecution. In August, 2009, an article appeared in a Swedish newspaper claiming that Israel kills Palestinians in order to sell their organs.  Anti-Semitic television series in Arab states portrayed Israeli security forces as bloodthirsty killers, and a Syrian television news report accused the Israeli rescue mission in Haiti of stealing the survivors’ organs. Iran - uses anti-Semitic rhetoric while abusing the international stage and has adopted a policy of Holocaust denial as a tool for negating the legitimacy of Israel’s existence, as part of a comprehensive plan for “the erasure and elimination of the Zionist entity” - remains a chief concern for Israeli policy makers and Jewish communities alike. The notion that military actions undertaken by the State of Israel in any way justifies outbreaks of antisemitism must be roundly rejected.

Other trends that surfaced in 2009 include a rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the context of local political races, including contentious elections in Hungary and the Ukraine, cooperation between far left activists and Moslem communities, and public sympathy toward Moslem violence against Jews.  At the same time, the report found that governmental action against anti-Semitism, such as the measures taken by the governments of the United States, Ukraine and the Czech Republic, yielded significant results.

Annex V

Everyone has a name

Everyone has a name
given to him by God
and given to him by his parents
Everyone has a name
given to him by his stature
and the way he smiles
and given to him by his clothing
Everyone has a name
given to him by the mountains
and given to him by the walls
Everyone has a name
given to him by the stars
and given to him by his neighbors
Everyone has a name
given to him by his sins
and given to him by his longing
Everyone has a name
given to him by his enemies
and given to him by his love
Everyone has a name
given to him by his holidays
and given to him by his work
Everyone has a name
given to him by the seasons
and given to him by his blindness
Everyone has a name
given to him by the sea and
given to him
by his death.

Zelda