21 October 2007
Yad Vashem, the Holocaust center in Jerusalem dedicated to Holocaust education, commemoration, research and remembrance is being internationally honoured this week. On Thursday, October 25, 2007, the Chairman of Yad Vashem, Avner Shalev, received the Légion d’Honneur from President Nicolas Sarkozy of France. The letter notifying Shalev of the award stated: “This prestigious distinction is presented to you for your extraordinary work on behalf of Holocaust remembrance worldwide. This is a reward for a man of peace, tolerance and sincerity, the person who has turned Yad Vashem into a place of renown, of mutual exchange for younger generations of all backgrounds and cultures.” The decoration was presented at a special ceremony hosted by President Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace at 12:00 noon.
On, Friday, October 26, 2007, Yad Vashem will receive the prestigious international Prince of Asturias Award for Concord. Yad Vashem was chosen from among 47 nominees from 28 countries. Yad Vashem's nomination was proposed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and supported by eminent public figures from around the world. The award ceremony will take place at the Campoamor Theatre in Oviedo, Spain in the presence of the Spanish Royal Family, and will be carried live on TVE Spanish Television. Shalev will speak at the ceremony, along with Letters awardee author Amos Oz, and International Cooperation awardee, Nobel Prize Laureate Al Gore. Holocaust survivors and Righteous Among the Nations will accompany Shalev on the stage to accept the Award.
The Prince of Asturias Award is presented in 8 categories. The Award for Concord is bestowed upon the person, persons or institution whose work has made an exemplary and outstanding contribution to mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence amongst men, to the struggle against injustice or ignorance, to the defence of freedom, or whose work has widened the horizons of knowledge or has been outstanding in protecting and preserving mankind's heritage. Information about the Prince of Asturias Foundation and Awards is available here.
Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev said, “In addition to expressing a recognition of the importance of Yad Vashem’s work around the world, these prestigious international awards also express a deep understanding that the memory of the Shoah - the murder of the Jews that took place in the center of Europe - has profound significance and meaning for the coexistence of the family of nations, today, and throughout the ages. Our commitment to education, to building a better future through our confrontation with the past is strengthened by this recognition, and emphasizes the awesome responsibility that Yad Vashem bears.”
Avner Shalev was appointed Chairman of Yad Vashem in 1993. From the beginning of his tenure, Shalev has striven to redefine Holocaust remembrance and education, introducing a far-reaching multiyear redevelopment plan. This has included opening an International School for Holocaust Studies, enlarging Yad Vashem’s archives and research facilities, and building a new Museum Complex. He is Chief Curator of the new Holocaust History Museum that opened in March 2005.
Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, was created by the Israeli Parliament in 1953. Located in Jerusalem, it is dedicated to Holocaust remembrance, documentation, research and education. Over the past decade Yad Vashem has revolutionized the approach to Holocaust commemoration. Through its new museum complex, research facilities and the International School for Holocaust Studies, Yad Vashem seeks to meaningfully impart the legacy of the Holocaust in the 21st century. Yad Vashem is visited annually by over one million people. More than 7 million visitors are expected to visit its website in 2007. Information about Yad Vashem is available at www.yadvashem.org.