Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev together with Chairman of the American Society for Yad Vashem Leonard Wilf presenting Israeli President Reuven Rivlin with a facsimle of the Wolfsberg Machzor
Yad Vashem Leadership Mission at the President's Residence in Jerusalem
11 July 2016
Yesterday, the Yad Vashem Leadership Mission arrived in Israel. The Leadership Mission brings together some of Yad Vashem's most influential friends from around the world to explore prewar Jewish life in Europe, to reflect on the past, present and future, and to connect to Yad Vashem as well as to one another. Participants include some of Yad Vashem's steadfast supporters and long standing friends including Chairman of the American Society for Yad Vashem Leonard Wilf, Chairman of the Young Leadership Association in the United States Barry Levine, Colin and Gail Halpern and Mark Moskowitz. The Mission arrived in Israel following several days visiting former German Nazi death and concentration camps in Poland, including Auschwitz-Birkenau, Wroclaw and Wolfsberg. While in Israel, the group will meet with senior Yad Vashem staff and hear the current state of affairs as well as learn about the future goals for Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center.
The Israel portion of the Mission began yesterday with a private audience with Israel's President Reuven Rivlin. Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev welcomed the group to Israel and to the President's Residence. He spoke of the importance of this Mission and the work that Yad Vashem is entrusted with and the critical juncture at which Holocaust remembrance and education now finds itself. "Now, more than ever, a tremendous and challenging responsibility weighs upon our shoulders," Avner Shalev said. "The survivors have entrusted us with the task of transmitting their legacy to future generations." Shalev discussed the importance of the Mission against the backdrop of the passing of his dear friend and Holocaust survivor, Prof. Elie Wiesel, z"l. "As the generation of Holocaust survivors dwindles, Yad Vashem's unique status as a unifying moral and ethical force for Israelis, as well as Jews and human beings around the world, becomes even more important."
"Since Yad Vashem was founded, it has had a very clear mission: to document and to remember, but also to educate the next generation in Israel and all over the world about the Holocaust. You not only guard a tragic and heavy burden of memory, but you are also architects of the future of the Jewish people," remarked President Rivlin.
Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev, joined by Chairman of the American Society for Yad Vashem Leonard Wilf, presented President Rivlin with a facsimle of the Wolfsberg Machzor. The Machzor is a special Holiday prayer book that Cantor Naftali Stern wrote from memory on the eve of Rosh Hashanah 1944 while a prisoner in the Wolfsberg Forced Labor Camp and later donated to Yad Vashem for safekeeping. "This [the Machzor] is a symbol of Jewish identity even during the darkest times and in turn we present it to the President to signify the continuity of the Jewish people and way of life," concluded Avner Shalev.
Over the next two days, the Mission will receive briefings from senior staff members at Yad Vashem and extensively tour the Yad Vashem campus. The Mission will conclude with a ceremony in the Valley of the Communities in the presence of Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett.