Tell me about Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem, Israel’s largest Holocaust memorial, is set on the western slope of Mount Herzl on the Mount of Remembrance on the edge of Jerusalem, adjoining Israel’s main military cemetery. After the Western Wall, Yad Vashem is the second-most-visited Israeli tourist site welcoming approximately one million visitors a year. Yad Vashem was originally founded by Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, in 1953 and opened to the public in 1957 on a 45-acre campus. Yad Vashem chose to convey a message of “rebirth” after destruction as the Jewish people’s living memorial to the Holocaust
Yad Vashem should not be confused with the older Chamber of the Holocaust, founded in 1948 on Mount Zion. That museum features walls lined with plaques in memory of over 2,000 Jewish communities destroyed during the Holocaust.
The new Yad Vashem museum, opened in 2005, was designed by Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie, replacing the previous 30-year-old exhibition.
My personal Yad Vashem
Our family has planted two trees in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations for righteous Dutch heroes who saved my mother-in-law, Betsy Wijnberg-Ehrlich. One honors the entire Van der Weijer family who found the place to hide and especially To Van der Weijer who supplied food and friendship. The second tree is in memory of Jan Westerbroek, an elderly farmer who bravely hid her in a small farmhouse for 13 months.
What does Yad Vashem mean?
“Even unto them will I give in my house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off” (Isaiah 56:5)
What does the complex contain? All the “Musts”
- The Holocaust History Museum with its nine galleries of interactive historical displays presenting the Holocaust through a range of multimedia, letters, works of art, and personal items found in the camps and ghettos. The museum is shaped like a triangular concrete prism illuminated by a 200-meter long skylight.The triangular design of the building represents the bottom half of a Star of David, because the population of Jews worldwide was almost cut in half as a result of the Holocaust. Visitors follow a preset route that takes them through underground galleries that branch off from the main hall. Special add-ons are available (Survivor’s Testimony, Ceremony with Cantor, Lecture, Tour for Families, Seminar and Bar or Bat Mitzvah Program) but must be coordinated prior to the visit.
- The Hall of Names containing over three million names of Holocaust victims. The main hall is composed of two cones: one ten meters high and another cone excavated into the underground rock filled with water. On the upper cone is a display featuring 600 photographs of Holocaust victims which are reflected in the lower cone.
- The Children’s Memorial commemorates the one and a half million Jewish children who perished in the Holocaust. A solitary flame reflected infinitely by hundreds of mirrors. Recorded voices read the names of children who perished.
- The Hall of Remembrance where the ashes of the dead are buried and an eternal flame burns in commemoration. The floor is inscribed with the names of 22 of the most infamous camps.
The Complete Itinerary
- The Memorial to the Deportees: a railroad car hanging over the cliff commemorating those who were deported.
- The Museum of Holocaust Art: This collection, focuses only on the works created during the Shoah. It is is the largest and most wide-ranging collection of Holocaust Art in the world. Most of the works were fashioned on thin scraps of paper, demanding periodical rotation and preservation. The Museum’s is changed every few months so that the works can “rest” in optimal dark conditions.
- The Valley of the Communities memorializes the 20,000 Jewish communities destroyed by the Nazis. There are 5000 names carved on 107 walls. Loosely based on the map of Europe and North Africa, the memorial was carved as a labyrinth of canyons, courtyards and dead ends rising to a height of ten meters. Of course I immediately searched for the Memorial for Minsk, my Father’s home town.
- The International Institute for Holocaust Studies was established in 1993 to encourage, develop, coordinate and support worldwide scholarly research on the Shoah.
- The Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations in honor of non-Jews who endangered their lives in order to rescue Jews from the Nazis. More than 24,300 individuals have been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations. At first a tree was planted for each one of the Righteous, but so many have been registered that this is no longer possible. Our family registered our Righteous Dutchmen early enough so that they had trees planted in their name on the Mount of Remembrance.
Of course, outdoor memorials and sculptures are also an essential part of any visit to Yad Vashem.
- Sunday to Wednesday: 09:00-17:00
- Thursday: 9:00-20:00
- Fridays and Holiday eves: 09:00-14:00
- Yad Vashem is closed on Saturdays and all Jewish Holidays
- The Holocaust History Museum, Museum of Holocaust Art, Exhibitions Pavilion and Synagogue are open until 20:00. All other sites close at 17:00.
- Children under the age of 10 are not permitted to enter the Holocaust History Museum.
- Groups of 6 or more are required to schedule their visit in advance.
Accessibility: Yad Vashem is handicapped accessible.
Audio Guides: Audio Guide tours are available in 7 languages (Hebrew, English, Arabic, French, German, Spanish and Russian).
Air conditioning, Kosher Cafeteria
Address: Har Hazikaron P.O.B. 3477 Jerusalem 9103401 Israel
Parking: Paid parking is available.