This coming year Yad Vashem will mark its seventieth anniversary as the world’s foremost source of Holocaust remembrance, education, documentation and research. And as the number of Holocaust survivors who can provide firsthand testimony dwindles and the events of the last century grow more distant in time, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center not only remains committed to the mandate it received from the Knesset when it was first established in 1953 it has renewed its vision accordingly. "Yad Vashem is not only about commemoration of the Holocaust from the Mount of Remembrance," says Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan, "it's about reaching out to audiences around the world “to lead the documentation, research, education and commemoration of the Holocaust, and to convey the chronicles of this singular Jewish and human event to every person in Israel, to the Jewish people, and to every significant and relevant audience worldwide.”
In the spirit of these global initiatives, Yad Vashem has initiated several innovative cultural and commemorative projects during its seventieth-year milestone:
The Book of Names: A Monumental Installation
Ever since its inception, one of the fundamental goals of Yad Vashem has been to gather the names of each victim of the Shoah. It is at the core of the name of the institution – Yad Vashem, 'a name and a memorial', taken from a biblical verse in Isaiah. In 2014, Yad Vashem unveiled the first Book of Names, a tangible memorial to the individual identities of the Jewish men, women and children murdered during the Holocaust, which is housed at SHOAH, the permanent exhibition in Block 27 at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. This January 2023, Yad Vashem will inaugurate a new version of the exhibit at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, one day before International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is observed each year on January 27. The Book of Names lists the names of more than 4,800,000 Shoah victims collected by Yad Vashem over the past seven decades in alphabetical order, and where the information is known, includes their birth dates, hometowns and places of death. The Book of Names will remain on display in the United Nations for several weeks before being moved to Israel, where it will be on permanent display at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. The Book of Names will open to the public in time for this coming Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day in April 2023.
Sixteen Objects - Making a Personal Connection
Yad Vashem is home to the world's largest collection of Holocaust-era artifacts, documents and artwork. These "silent witnesses" tell the personal stories of the victims and their communities. Sixteen of these items have been curated into a new exhibition that Yad Vashem will open at the Bundestag, the national parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany, during the week of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This unique exhibition will bring 16 authentic objects whose stories are directly connected to individuals and places from across Germany. Their stories and the fate of their owners embody the history of the Holocaust and serve as witnesses to its atrocities. As the number of survivors decreases, nearly eighty years after the end of the Holocaust, we rely on these artifacts to serve as everlasting witnesses to inspire the next generation of remembrance.
Inspired by the heroism of Chiune Sugihara and the thousands of Jewish lives rescued through his decisions and actions during WWII, Lera Auerbach created the music, libretto, and artistic concept for Symphony No. 6, "Vessels of Light," for Violoncello, Choir, and Orchestra. Symphony No. 6 "Vessels of Light," is a commission by Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, and the American Society for Yad Vashem. The commission was catalyzed by the world-premiere performer of the symphony, Japanese-American violoncellist Kristina Reiko Cooper, whose husband's father, Irving Rosen, was rescued thanks to the life-saving visas granted by Chiune Sugihara. Yad Vashem honored Sugihara as one of the Righteous Among the Nations for his actions during that dark chapter of our recent history.
The world premiere of Vessels of Light was held at the Kaunas State Philharmonic Hall in Lithuania, where Sugihara issued the life-saving visas in 1940. The symphony will be performed around the world during 2023 and 2024 in New York, Mexico City, Los Angeles, Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin and Leipzig.
"Seeing Holocaust-era artifacts on display in the German capitol, hearing Yiddish lyrics and traditional Jewish melodies intertwined in the "Vessels of Light" symphony and touching the names of the millions of victims who were not only murdered but whose identities the German Nazis tried to erase, will further engage and inspire the next generation of Holocaust remembrance," remarks Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan. "Like the late Elie Wiesel once said 'whoever listens to a witness, becomes a witness'. We must continue to bear witness to our history and to those who were murdered as well as those who survived in order to tell the world their story. We are their legacy."
The article was written in cooperation with Yad Vashem