Today, the new International Seminars Wing of Yad Vashem's International School for Holocaust Studies opened in the presence of Israel's Minister of Education, Gideon Sa'ar and Foreign Minister of Canada, John Baird. Mr. Baird remarked on the close relationship Canada shares with Israel, stating that Canada, as Israel's firmest supporter, doesn't "stand behind Israel, but at its side." Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev noted that "the passage of time has not only brought a blessing to the realm of Holocaust education, but also created new challenges . . . This functional building, beautiful and inspiring, will be a home for in-depth educational work." Generously supported by Joseph Gottdenker of Canada along with Friends of Yad Vashem worldwide, the wing adds 45,000 square feet of space to the International School, and provides state-of-the-art facilities, including the new Edmond J. Safra Lecture Hall, to meet the ever-expanding demand for educational seminars for teachers and public opinion-shapers from Israel and around the globe. The wing incorporates eleven new classrooms, a videoconference suite and conference rooms, as well as a 330-seat lecture hall, donated by the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation, which will greatly enrich the quality of the many large-scale events and seminars run by the School.
Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council, spoke movingly about the need to remember and pass on the memory of the Holocaust. He noted that today is a significant date in history -- the rise of Hitler to power in Germany; and encouraged the audience to tell their children and grandchildren.
Joseph Gottdenker reflected on the Righteous Among the Nations who rescued him and on his deep commitment to ensuring the future of Holocaust education:
"It is not enough for us to remember the Holocaust in our hearts. To truly honor the memory of those who perished, we must ensure that they and the Shoah are remembered in the hearts of the third generation and fourth generations and every generation to come. It is because I believe so deeply in education that I chose to contribute to the new international seminars wing, and I stand here proudly today at its opening. This was a critical decision for me but also an obvious one. Yad Vashem is, without a doubt, the most influential and active institution in safe-guarding the memory of the Holocaust."