Rabbi Sha’ar Yashuv Cohen, Chief Rabbi of Haifa, a close friend of the Helfgott family, speaks during the ceremony
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24 November 2008
On November 24, 2008, the exhibition “To Witness and Proclaim” was opened at Yad Vashem. On display are personal documents that chart the life of Rabbi Dr. Zvi Asaria - Hermann Helfgott.
Present at the ceremony were Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev, Chief Rabbi of Haifa Rabbi Sha’ar Yashuv Cohen, donor of the collection Mrs. Malka Asaria Helfgott, Senior Curator and Deputy Director of the Museums Division Yehudit Shendar, museum staff, Deputy Chairperson of the She’erit Hapleitah Bergen-Belsen Organization in Israel Mrs. Yochi Ritz, archives staff, and Holocaust survivors and their families.
Mr. Avner Shalev, Rabbi Sha’ar Yashuv Cohen, and Mrs. Malka Asaria Helfgott spoke during the ceremony. While donating Rabbi Helfgott’s military identification tag to Yad Vashem, Mrs. Helfgott said:
“I am donating this identity tag, which my husband (z”l) wore for four and a half years in German captivity, to be eternally preserved at Yad Vashem. Identity tag number 7488.”
The Story of the Exhibition
The exhibition “To Witness and Proclaim” is based upon the personal archive of Rabbi Dr. Zvi Asaria - Hermann Helfgott, telling his unique and highly inspiring story. The exhibition is composed of personal documents and certificates, a diary, letters, speeches and sermons, portraits and photographs that chart Rabbi Helfgott’s life: his childhood in Yugoslavia, his studies in Vienna and Budapest, his service as a rabbi and officer in the Yugoslavian army, the years in German captivity, religious and Zionist activities in Bergen-Belsen after the liberation, immigrating to Israel and his wide-ranging activities in the service of the state.
The new exhibition is situated at the entrance to the Archives and Library building at Yad Vashem. This personal collection, one of many preserved at Yad Vashem, allows the visitor to discover the individual behind the documents and to accompany him and his fellow Jews in their struggle to survive and their daily attempts to navigate a world in chaos.