According to the prophet Isaiah, Yad VaShem, a monument and a name, is what God promised those without children, an everlasting name which would not perish. (Is 56:5).

When the first reports of the massacre of European Jews reached the outside world the idea of a memorial was discussed but it was not until 1953 that the Israeli Knesset enacted the Yad VaShem law thereby establishing an Institute which was to document the six million Jewish martyrs who were slaughtered without progeny, the fighters in the ghettos, the partisans in the forests, the soldiers in the allied armies and the righteous among the nations who risked their lives to save Jews.

To date the names of more than four million martyrs have been recorded on ‘pages of testimony’. A entire families were slain, many of the names come from meticulous German records which provide irrefutable proof of the Holocaust and its enormity. Yad VaShem has undertaken to make as much as possible of its very extensive archives available on the Internet and has recently uploaded the trial of Adolf Eichman.

The museum is very comprehensive and includes the screening of many personal testimonies. The Hall of Remembrance, with its eternal flame burning next to a lead casket of ash taken from the crematoria and the names of death camps inscribed on the floor, is where ceremonies are held and all official state visits begin.

In the Children’s Memorial, dedicated to one and a half million innocent Jewish children, five candles are mirrored and  recall God’s promise to Abraham: ” I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars.” (Gen 22:17). Over the entrance are the words “The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord”  (Proverbs 20:27)

Throughout the grounds are many dedicatory monuments, some by survivors. The Valley of the Communities is a maze of enormous blocks each recalling a town, a village, a shtetl where Jewish life was extinguished. Computerized information about each of the five thousand communities is available at the entrance.

Text content copyrights: Bein Harim Ltd., Beryl Ratzer (www.ratzer.com)

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