About the city
Yad Vashem: The Holocaust Remembrance Center
“Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp…”
“In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart…”
“That September day in 1939 drew the closing line under the epoch…of the generation…”
Such were the thoughts of Elie Wiesel, Anne Frank, and Stefan Zweig in the face of the Holocaust. Among the great voices of conscience of the 20th century and the greatest writers in modern Jewish history, they are but the most prominent few whose voices were able to be heard in the face of the biggest tragedy and crime in modern history.
Jewish history and identity is built upon the twin pillars of words and remembrance. Through our tragedies, triumphs, fears, and dreams for thousands of years, our words preserved Jewish identity, keeping it alight even in our darkest hours.
The Holocaust claimed the lives of six million Jews and the fabric of Europe’s Jewish communities. It is all too disturbing, therefore, that such a crime and the two millennia of anti-Semitism that underpinned and preceded it are too often diminished and denied. Yad Vashem, The World Holocaust Memorial Center, is dedicated to keeping the words of remembrance alive.
Name and Significance
The name “Yad Vashem” is taken from Isaiah and translates as “memorial and a name,” giving both to those six million who would otherwise be denied either by the crimes of the Nazis. It was built in the shape of a long triangular prism on the western side of Mount Herzl and opened in 1957 after nearly a decade of planning. Among its features are a Hall of Names preserving the names of as many of the six million as have been reclaimed, exhibits on the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and other acts of resistance against the Nazis by Jews and Gentiles alike, an Eternal Flame of remembrance, and exhibits depicting the nature of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust.
In addition to the Hall of Names preserving memory of the dead, Yad Vashem also houses around 110,000 documents, audio recordings, and other accounts from survivors as well as the largest collection of Holocaust-era Jewish art in the world.
Planning Your Stay
Yad Vashem is one of the most critical centers of Jewish remembrance in the world. It is thus of the utmost importance that visitors understand and respect the full weight and seriousness of the site. Yad Vashem trains thousands of teachers both in Israel and around the world. The website is available in Hebrew, English, German, Farsi, and Arabic. If you are planning to visit for a couple weeks or more, Jerusalem short-term apartments are available to facilitate your stay.
Ecclesiastes famously begins “Vanity of Vanities, all is vanity.”
It is left to us to honor the words of Wiesel, Frank, and Zweig, to show remembrance towards the six million silenced by hatred, and ensure that those deaths were not in vain.