06 January 2022
At a time when surveys indicate serious deficiencies in the basic awareness and knowledge of the Holocaust among individuals and groups around the globe; when antisemitism as well as Holocaust distortion and trivialization are gaining traction in the public sphere in both the physical and digital realms; and as humanity recedes further from the events of the Shoah and its survivor witnesses sadly dwindle, there is a clear and urgent need for intensive Holocaust education and remembrance activities worldwide. And in light of indications that highlight the positive effects of meaningful Holocaust education on individuals in today's fractured world, Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, has launched the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Educational Leadership Academy.
Marking one year since the passing of loyal friend and Yad Vashem Patron Sheldon G. Adelson, the opening event was held yesterday (5 January 2022) at Yad Vashem on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem, in the presence of Yad Vashem Patron Dr. Miriam Adelson, former Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky, Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan, Holocaust survivors and other esteemed guests.
Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan said:
"If there are two commandments that are unique to our generation they are: to ensure the existence, security and prosperity of the State of Israel as a Jewish state; and to ensure the continued existence of the Jewish people. The Adelson couple represent the spirit, vision and goals that Yad Vashem seeks to instill in Israel and around the world, and I thank them for that from the bottom of my heart."
Recalling Sheldon's entrepreneurial spirit, Sharansky said:
"Miri and the late Sheldon understood how important knowledge about the Holocaust was to ensure the future of the Jewish people… We know how hatred towards Jews and hatred towards the State of Israel is the same thing, how deep it is… and we have no way of facing it other than our memory and our values. It all starts from the memory of the Holocaust and that's why this Academy is so important."
Following a moving salute to the Holocaust survivors in the audience, Dr. Miriam Adelson rose to the lectern.
"For me, Yad Vashem has always represented connection – a connection with the half of my family who perished in the Holocaust, and a place where I can find answers for the pieces missing in the narrative puzzle that I heard over the years," she remembered. "My beloved late husband Sheldon and I always considered it a great honor to support Yad Vashem – just as we supported countless charities that build a better future, whether through Jewish welfare or Zionist education. This is because confronting the horrors of the Holocaust is no less important for our people's continuity than celebrating our collective triumphs or realizing our national dreams."
Following her recollection of their critical assistance to digitize Yad Vashem's invaluable archives collection, Dr. Adelson added:
"Sheldon and I saw manifold value to the International School for Holocaust Studies. This School teaches foreign educators about the Holocaust, so that they might teach it in turn when they return home. At a time of spiraling antisemitism globally, these teachers – whose countries of origin have included Turkey and Jordan – are equipped to spot and call out this unique evil before it spreads. Their training helps makes the Jewish catastrophe a firm fact in the international consciousness, a fact beyond denial – in the hope that the world which turned a blind eye during World War Two will not do so again, and will ensure that such events never recur. You have my heartfelt thanks for honoring Sheldon, myself and the entire Adelson family today. May the memory of our six million brothers and sisters be a blessing. And bless you all for perpetuating their sacred memory."
At the conclusion of the event, which included short video presentations of the reach and effect of the International School for Holocaust Studies, Dayan presented Dr. Adelson with the ceremonial Yad Vashem Key in recognition of the ongoing dedication of the Adelson family to the vital educational endeavors carried out on a daily basis by Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center.
The Adelson Educational Leadership Academy will focus much of its activities and programing, both at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and online, on widening the scope of Yad Vashem seminar graduates – "ambassadors" of Holocaust education around the world – and forging closer and more productive networking between the most effective amongst them. The enrichment activities will gear their efforts towards educators, diplomats, opinion-shapers, clergy and civic leaders, as well as senior staff in the military and security forces. The Academy will also reach out to official visitors to the Mount of Remembrance, in order to foster new international partnerships and cooperative agreements.
In a statement preceding the event Dayan explained:
"The way to fight rising antisemitism is through consistent and comprehensive activity to expand knowledge about the Holocaust and its causes among various circles including potential leaders. The establishment of the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Educational Leadership Academy will reach many circles as well as the next generation of leaders in a variety of areas of life: education, diplomacy, clergy, security forces, medical professionals and more. It is vital that these cohorts know the historical truth and learn appropriate pedagogical concepts that will help in the fight against the ignorance that exists today."