Delegates from 62 countries participating in the International Youth Congress at Yad Vashem
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27 January 2008
Young people from 62 countries and five continents gathered at Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies for a three-day Youth Congress that began on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27, 2008. Ranging in age from 17 to 19, and including among them Christians, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists, and speaking some 30 different languages, participants spoke of shaping Holocaust remembrance and its importance to coming generations.
Countries as varied as Senegal, Morocco, Australia, Thailand, Nepal, China, The Gambia, Canada, Russia, Poland, France, Great Britain, Guatemala, Turkey, Israel and the United States are represented. The Congress, under the patronage of UNESCO, is devoted to the study of the Holocaust and discussions of its universal significance.
On the first day of the conference, participants toured the Holocaust History Museum and the Valley of the Communities and participated in a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance. The opening session of the Congress was attended by Israeli Minister of Education Professor Yuli Tamir, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev, and Director of The International School for Holocaust Studies Dorit Novak, with greetings from Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO. Reflecting upon the universal lessons that emerge from the Holocaust, Professor Tamir said:
“we are remembering for the sake of the future, because we believe that the future is determined by the way we understand the past”.
The second day of the conference continued at Yad Vashem with a tour of the Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations. Participants attended lectures and discussions, including a lecture titled “Ambassadors: The Power of Youth Around the World” by Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni. H.E. Mr. Henri Etoundi Essomba, Ambassador of Cameroon in Israel and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, addressed the delegates as well. The second day of the conference concluded with meetings between the delegates and Holocaust survivors.
On Tuesday, the final day of the conference, participants toured other sites on the campus, including the Museum of Holocaust Art, Synagogue, and Learning Center. They met with President of the State of Israel Shimon Peres and Holocaust survivor and Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv Rabbi Israel Meir Lau. At the concluding session of the Congress, the participants presented an international youth declaration formulated during the conference to Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev and Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council Joseph (Tommy) Lapid.