Monday, March 27, 2023

(Courtesy of Yad Vashem) Yad Vashem, the world Holocaust remembrance center in Jerusalem, inaugurated a new installation titled “The Book of Names of Holocaust Victims” that will be on display at United Nations headquarters in New York City as part of the United Nations Outreach Program on Holocaust activities for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jan. 27.

This monumental installation features the names of 4,800,000 Holocaust victims currently documented and included in Yad Vashem’s central database of Shoah victims’ names. Since the 1950s, Yad Vashem has painstakingly gathered the names of Holocaust victims. They have been collected from numerous sources that have been meticulously reviewed by Yad Vashem experts. The names were collected from handwritten pages of testimony, archival lists compiled during and following the Shoah, and from other sources of documentation that have been culled for every name possible.

The Book of Names stands 6.56 feet tall and is 3.3 feet wide with a circumference of over 26 feet. The sheer size of the Book of Names is symbolic of the unprecedented scope of the tragedy to the Jewish people and all of humanity. It epitomizes the insurmountable task of preserving the memory of each individual victim as well as the catastrophe that was the Holocaust.

Whenever possible, the listings in the Book of Names also contain the birth date, hometown and place of death of the victim. The names are illuminated by a gentle beam of light that shines from the center of each page, illuminating the names of the Jewish men, women, and children murdered during the Holocaust. At the end of the Book there are blank pages symbolizing more than one million names yet to be retrieved, documented and recovered. For seven decades, Yad Vashem has been gathering and remembering the names of Holocaust victims, a mission that lies at the core of Yad Vashem's identity and illustrated by its name. "And to them will I give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name (a ‘Yad Vashem’)... that shall not be cut off.” (Isaiah, 56:5)

The opening event took place on Jan. 26 in the presence of United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan and Israel’s Permanent Representative to the U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan. The Book of Names will be on display in the U.N. headquarters in New York through Feb. 17 and is open to the public weekdays from 9:00 a.m.-5 p.m.. At the conclusion of its display in the United Nations, the Book of Names installation will be brought to Israel to be permanently on display at Yad Vashem on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem. It will open in time for Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, observed this year on April 17-18.

The Book of Names was developed and exhibition through the generous support of Yad Vashem Visionaries Marilyn and Barry Rubenstein from the United States.

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