14 September 2003
Today, 14 September 2003, a ceremony will take place at Yad Vashem to inaugurate its new Book and Resource Center in the presence of Minister of Justice, Yosef (Tommy) Lapid MK, the building’s architect and donor David Azrieli, and the Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate, Avner Shalev.
The Book and Resource Center is located in Yad Vashem’s new Entrance Complex and will be managed by Steimatzky Group Ltd. The center will provide a wide range of current reference books, multi-media, memoirs and Holocaust literature for visitor purchase. The 300 square meter building will act as a resource center and will fill book orders and visitor requests related to the Holocaust and WWII in various languages. The center will also offer all of Yad Vashem’s publications as well as educational materials produced by its International School for Holocaust Studies. Stephanie and David Azrieli contributed to the establishment of the center in memory of David’s parents, Rafael Hirsch Azrylewicz and Chaya-Sara Gerber- Azrylewicz, brother Pinchas and sister Chirele who were murdered in the Shoah.
The new Book and Resource Center is part of Yad Vashem’s development plan, which includes a new Museum Complex featuring a new Holocaust History Museum. The new Holocaust History Museum will be 3 times the size of the current museum and will incorporate new information and emphases that do not appear in the current museum. The Museum Complex is slated to open in Fall 2004. Yad Vashem’s new Entrance Complex includes the Book and Resource Center, and Entrance Plaza, a new Visitors’ Center (Mevoah) which includes a dairy cafeteria and a new underground parking lot.
Building architect and donor, David J. Azrieli:
Azrieli was born in Makow, Poland in 1922. When the war broke out and their oldest son was drafted into the army, his parents made the difficult decision to send their remaining children to Israel. On 4 September 1939, David parted from his siblings but returned soon after worried about his family’s safety. His mother, who was a strong, warm woman, urged him to flee; that was the last time he saw his parents. Azrieli headed east, crossing Poland and the Ukraine and continuing through Tashkent, Buchara, Iran and Iraq ending up in Kibbutz Maoz Chaim (Palestine). In January 1946, Azrieli learned that his mother and younger sister had perished in Birkenau and his father had been murdered several months later in Auschwitz. However, the knowledge that his brother Ephraim survived gave him the will to persevere.
In 1954 Azrieli moved to Canada and settled in Montreal with his wife Stephanie, where they raised there four children. Azrieli divides his time between Canada and Israel. Azrieli has been widely recognized for his achievements by governments and universities in Canada, the US and Israel.
During the ceremony, Hungarian Minister of Justice, Dr. Peter Barandy will tour Yad Vashem. Barandy is visiting Israel as a guest of his colleague, Israeli Minister of Justice Yosef (Tommy) Lapid MK. Following the inauguration ceremony of the Book and Resource Center, Minister Lapid will join Barandy and from 18:00 - 18:30 the two will continue the tour and conduct a wreath-laying ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance.