Holocaust Museum Israel: Yad Vashem

| July 30, 2012 | 0 Comments
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Holocaust Museum Israel

If you have never before visited the Holocaust Museum Israel (Yad Vashem) or haven’t been back since your first visit to Israel, then it’s time to drive to Mount Herzl at the edge of the Jerusalem Forest to experience the Holocaust Museum that was redesigned, updated, and rededicated in 2005.

Janusz Korczak Memorial Yad Vashem

Berthold Werner  Public Domain
Janusz Korczak Memorial

The new campus of the Holocaust Museum Israel, designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie, is both a memorial and a learning and resource center, accomplishing both purposes in a masterful and evocative way.  The main building, the History Museum, cuts a long triangular swath through the forest. Visitors traverse the history of the Jewish communities affected by the rise of Nazism and the Holocaust (the Shoah in Hebrew) via a series of exhibits which illustrate life before, during, and after the tragic events of the mid-twentieth century.

Personal artifacts, historical documents, and survivor testimonies all bring the narrative home. Much of the exhibit is underground, illuminated by shafts of light from the skylights overhead. At the end of the museum visitors emerge into the bright light of a Jerusalem day with areas of the vibrant city visible below.

Yad Vashem Museum: Holocaust Art

Yad Vashem Museum: Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations

צילום:ד”ר אבישי טייכר  CC BY 2.5
Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations

Besides the Holocaust History Museum, there are five additional components to the Museum Complex.

  1. The Art Museum holds the largest collection of Holocaust art in the world.
  2. Next, the Exhibitions Pavilion displays a variety of temporary exhibits.
  3. The Learning Center is designed to provide information and engage visitors in thought-provoking questions through multimedia presentations.
  4. The Visual Center is a collection of thousands of films and survivor testimonies, which can be viewed at personal computer stations.
  5. Finally, the New Synagogue displays Judaica from synagogues that were destroyed in Europe during the war.

Outside, the beautifully landscaped grounds include the Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations, where trees have been planted in honor of non-Jews from many countries who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.  Today, the names of rescuers are engraved on the wall in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations. The Hall of Remembrance, dotted with stones marking different death camps, provides another dark, quiet place for contemplation and remembrance.

Yad Vashem Children’s Memorial

Talmoryair  CC BY 3.0
Children’s Memorial

Yad Vashem Children’s Memorial

There are various Holocaust memorials throughout the 4,200-square meter landscape.  One of the most poignant is the Children’s Memorial, hollowed out of a natural cavern in the Jerusalem bedrock. The space is designed to commemorate the 1.5 million children who perished in the Shoah.  Their names are hauntingly heard as visitors traverse the space.

The Valley of Communities is a collection of over 5,000 names of Jewish communities engraved into stone walls, which existed prior to the war. For those seeking information about relatives who perished or communities that were decimated, the Hall of Names and the Research Center are excellent resources. Millions of pages of testimony in many languages document the lives of those who were murdered in the Holocaust.

Israel Holocaust Museum Information

צילום:ד"ר אבישי טייכר  CC BY 2.5 Valley of the Communities Monument

צילום:ד”ר אבישי טייכר  CC BY 2.5
Valley of the Communities Monument

Yad Vashem’s extensive publications are available in the bookstore near the museum entrance. Children under 10 are not admitted, nor are infants in carriers or strollers. There is no entrance fee. Public transportation, including the Light Rail, runs to the top of Mt. Herzl, and a frequent free shuttle van brings visitors from Mt. Herzl to the museum entrance. Parking is available in the garage for 20 NIS.

Most large groups arrive in the morning.  The museum is relatively empty in the late afternoon hours and on Thursday evenings. Group visits (5 or more people) must be arranged in advance. Guided tours are available for a fee. Museum tours are given via headsets, which can be picked up at the Visitor’s Center. Tours are available in many different languages. Hours: Sun-Wed: 9 a.m-5 p.m Th: 9a.m-8 p.m. Fri and holiday eves: 9 a.m-2 p.m.

Israel Holocaust Museum: Did You Know? 

Yad Vashem is the second most visited site in Israel after the Western Wall.

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Category: Jerusalem, Museums

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