Yad Vashem Council Chairman Rabbi Israel Meir Lau addressing the 10th International Conference on Holocaust Education
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25 June 2018
Some 350 teachers, from 5 continents and 50 countries attended the opening ceremony of the 10th International Conference at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, entitled, "Teaching the Holocaust: Time, Place and Relevance," today.
Conference participants include teachers and educators, directors of education departments in museums and Holocaust memorial institutions, representatives of Ministries of Education as well as graduates of Yad Vashem international educational seminars from around the world who have gathered on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem for this four-day conference, 25-28 June 2018.
The opening ceremony for the International Conference took place at Yad Vashem in the presence of Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council Rabbi Israel Meir Lau and Yad Vashem Director General Dorit Novak.
"This International Conference brings us hope that Holocaust remembrance and education will remain alive and relevant for years to come," remarked Yad Vashem Director General Dorit Novak. The International Conference is the largest and most prestigious gathering of worldwide leaders in Holocaust education. Throughout the conference, leading experts from Yad Vashem will present its unique and cutting-edge pedagogical approaches to Holocaust education. The conference will present Holocaust education as a compelling, engaging and inspirational topic, which remains relevant to our global society.
Yad Vashem Council Chairman Rabbi Israel Meir Lau also addressed the Conference proceedings speaking about the tendency of educators to focus on numbers when it comes to Holocaust education and remembrance. "6 million murdered Jews, 1.5 million Jewish children killed during the Holocaust, it is a shock, but it is a number – you cannot identify with a number, you cannot feel it," Rabbi Lau exclaimed. "People's senses and emotions are very limited; you cannot feel solidarity with the enormity of millions."
He went on to talk about how in 1947 when the Diary of Anne Frank was first published it caused international excitement. The little diary that has gone on to sell millions of copies and has been translated into dozens of languages, told the story of one little girl from Amsterdam who was murdered in Bergen Belsen at the age of 12. Rabbi Lau questioned what all the hype was about, however, "after a while I understood why the world's excitement, it was the first time we were introduced to an individual and not an unimaginable number. For the first time we were told a story of one child with brown eyes and dark hair, with parents, a family and friends, simply a human being." Rabbi Lau encouraged the educators gathered to take this as a lesson and asked them to start teaching about the personalities that are behind the numbers.
The opening ceremony was concluded with an emotional vocal performance by the hugely talented and popular David D'Or.
The International Conference is possible thanks to the support of Yad Vashem's partners in Yad Vashem initiatives around the world in Holocaust education, the Adelson Family Foundation, the Asper Foundation, the Azrieli Foundation, the Conference on Jewish