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Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev to Receive the Order of Civil Merit by the Kingdom of Spain

Ambassador Fernando Carderera Soler to bestow the award at a ceremony on Thursday

12 December 2016

On Thursday, 15 December 2016, Avner Shalev, Chairman of Yad Vashem, will receive the title of the Order of Civil Merit by the King of Spain. Spanish Ambassador to Israel H.E. Mr. Fernando Carderera Soler will present Shalev with the award at a ceremony at the residence of the Ambassador. Shalev is being awarded for his years of public service as Chairman of Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, and for the significant strides he has made in Holocaust education and commemoration in Israel and around the world.

The prestigious Order of Civil Merit (Orden del Mérito Civil) was established to recognize extraordinary service of native and foreign citizens on behalf of the King and Spanish Nation. There are several grades of this citation. Previous recipients of the various levels of the Order of Civil Merit have included heads of state, as well as several kings, queens and other members of royalty.

Since the beginning of his tenure at Yad Vashem over two decades ago, Avner Shalev has initiated and overseen a comprehensive development program aimed at enabling Yad Vashem to meet the challenges of the 21st century in the areas of Holocaust documentation, research and education. From the start, Shalev prioritized education, placing it at Yad Vashem's forefront through the establishment of its International School for Holocaust Studies. Over the years, the International School has hosted hundreds of educational seminars for teachers and community leaders from around the world, including several for educators from Spain and Latin America. Moreover, in March 2016 Yad Vashem signed an educational Memorandum of Understanding with the Municipal Institute of Education of Barcelona. In addition, Shalev's development program included the establishment of a comprehensive Museum Complex, centered on the Holocaust History Museum, for which he served as Chief Curator. Yad Vashem has also invested great efforts in the area of online media, and in January 2009, it inaugurated a comprehensive Spanish-language website – alongside its website in English, Hebrew, German, Arabic, Farsi and Russian. In 2015, www.yadvashem.org attracted over 18 million visits.

In his capacity as Yad Vashem Chairman, Shalev serves as a member of several international organizations in the area of Holocaust commemoration, including Assistant Chairman of the International Auschwitz Council and Co-Head of Israel's Delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). In 2014, Shalev addressed the United Nations' General Assembly during a session marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Avner Shalev was born in Jerusalem. He served as Head of the Bureau of the then IDF Chief-of-Staff David Elazar and worked alongside him during the Yom Kippur War. Shalev also served as the Chief Education Officer and Head of the Education Corps of the IDF. Following his retirement from military service, Shalev assumed the positions of Director of the Culture Authority in the Israel Ministry of Education and Culture and Chairman of the National Council of Culture and Art; he also served on the boards of a wide range of Israeli museums and cultural institutions, including the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Shalev helped found the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School in Jerusalem and was instrumental in creating the Israel Festival as a major event in Jerusalem. In 1993, he was appointed Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate. In 2003, he received the Israel Prize on behalf of Yad Vashem. In 2007, he received the French Legion of Honor by President Sarkozy and that same year the Spanish Prince of Asturias Prize for Concord on behalf of Yad Vashem. In addition, Shalev has received several awards in Israel: He was bestowed the Yakir Yerushalayim (Worthy of Jerusalem) award by the Mayor of Jerusalem in 2011, and in 2014 Shalev received the Presidential Medal of Distinction from President Shimon Peres.

For more information regarding this award and other Yad Vashem initiatives, please contact Media Relations at media.relations@yadvashem.org.il.