Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem Flash 90

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The Arutz Sheva Jerusalem Conference in New York, JCNY2022, will feature Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan, who recently presided over Israel's official State Opening Ceremony for Holocaust Remembrance Day at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, alongside President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. The ceremony featured the kindling of six commemorative torches by Holocaust survivors and their family members, as well as traditional memorial services and readings.

"One of my goals is to place the Holocaust legacy at the forefront of the international, diplomatic and educational agendas," stated Dayan, who served as Consul General of Israel in New York from 2016 until 2020, in advance of the conference. "Despite its growing distance, the legacy of the Holocaust is relevant more than ever to the world today. While Holocaust denial is thankfully a marginal phenomenon, Holocaust distortion and trivialization is more of a serious challenge that threatens our shared ideals. Nations that claim, 'Yes, the Holocaust happened, but we did not collaborate with the Nazis; we were victims, just like the Jews' are – willingly or not – distorts history. For the sake of Jewish memory as well as the fight against extremism, we are adamant in our efforts to combat these kinds of expressions.”

Just a few days before Holocaust Remembrance Day, "Before My Very Eyes," the Yad Vashem Educational Center for Holocaust Remembrance at the Ariel Sharon IDF Training Campus in the Negev was inaugurated. The new Center comprises a specially curated overview of the Shoah, as well as interactive areas that present value-based exhibits connected to the Jewish experience during those terrible years, in order to encourage soldiers and other visitors to reflect on their role in society today.

The fruit of cooperative endeavors and long-standing dialogue between educators at Yad Vashem and the IDF's Educational Corps, and the generous support of the American Society for Yad Vashem and friends around the world, the Center aims to present the subject of the Shoah in an experiential and relevant way. Examining values such as Jewish identity, mutual responsibility, leadership, heroism, and attachment to the Land of Israel will allow the next generations of soldiers and commanders to commit to passing on the torch of remembrance and becoming constructive contributors to an ethical global society.

"As the years pass from the events of the Shoah and fewer survivors remain among us, the Educational Center is set to inspire young men and women at different stages of their military service through an in-depth study of the Holocaust," said Dayan. "By highlighting several individuals, who can serve as role models to the leaders of tomorrow, it serves as a platform for the discussion of authority and ethics arising from Holocaust commemoration, as well as the importance of Jewish continuity – encouraging the development of leaders of tomorrow of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. "

Another way to enhance Holocaust knowledge is to provide a personal connection. In Holocaust education, this is often accomplished through firsthand testimonies of survivors who experienced persecution, roundups, hiding under false identities, ghettos, deportations and concentration and extermination camps. Yad Vashem disseminates this content in multiple languages via physical and digital exhibitions, in order to present these stories to the public.

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To mark Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day, which this year focused on the mass deportations of Jews from across Europe and North Africa, Yad Vashem uploaded a new online exhibition, entitled “Stories of the Last Deportees: June 1944-April 1945.” This carefully curated display employs original documentation and artifacts from Yad Vashem's unrivalled collections, and focuses on the final, terrible, inhumane transportations of Jews – by rail, boat and even by foot – despite the increasing complexity of the war and the German Army's desperate need for means of operational military transportation. The personal stories of individuals and families from all walks of life and geographical locations presented in the exhibition allow the viewer to connect with this unprecedented human tragedy.

"Since assuming the Chairmanship of Yad Vashem, I strive to meet the enormous responsibility of making the voices of the victims and the survivors heard," concluded Dayan. "Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, will continue to be the guardian of the truthful memory of the Holocaust for the sake of humanity worldwide, bound to no particular body and directed by no political agenda. Yad Vashem is a lighthouse, warning of the terrifying and often fatal dangers of unchecked antisemitism and xenophobia. I am not so naïve as to believe that Holocaust education will totally eradicate antisemitism from the face of the earth, but it is an essential tool to mitigate it in certain sectors of society and thus build a better future for Jewish people wherever they call home."

Indeed, combating antisemitism will play a significant role at the conference: “Our goal is to bring the Jewish community and Israel’s supporters together to give them a sense of the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora,” commented Besheva’s Chairman Dudu Saada. “We aim to discuss the relationship between Israel and American Jewry, strengthen Jewish identity around the globe, and raise awareness about rising antisemitism.”

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