Yesterday, a very special multi-media presentation, “The World that Was,” was unveiled in Yad Vashem’s Valley of the Communities. The short film depicts the richness and vitality of 2,000 years of Jewish life and culture before the Holocaust. Fittingly it is screened in the Valley, a massive 2.5 acre memorial to the more than 5,000 Jewish communities decimated in the Holocaust where more than 100 stone walls tower above the ground, engraved with the names of each of those communities, a testament to a what no longer exists.
Speaking movingly of the changes that have taken place in Holocaust remembrance over the years, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, underscored the importance of not just talking about how people perished in the Holocaust – the horrific ways that their lives ended – but remembering who those six million Jews and their communities were. Remarking upon the value of appreciating the lost communities, their institutions, and their way of life, he noted, “If someone doesn’t appreciate a phenomenon he will not feel any pain if that phenomenon ceases to exits.”
Mr. Brian Markeson, Chairman of the British Friends of Yad Vashem remarked: “It is essential to learn what was lost in the Shoah in order to understand its implications.” The new trustees of the British Friends for Yad Vashem, in Israel for a special 3-day mission, were recognized at the event for the culmination of the British Friends of Yad Vashem fundraising project endowing the “The World that Was”.
Thousands of teachers, IDF soldiers, and school children are expected to view the film each year.