Sunday, March 27, 2011

Remembering the Jewish community of Macedonia

“The shortest journey”, wrote the Israeli poet Lea Goldberg, “Is upon the years. … The shortest journey is the journey to the past”. The past had a significant presence in the annual commemoration of the Jewish community of Macedonia recently at Yad Vashem’s Synagogue. It seems that the journey to the past becomes more and more difficult. The journey through the years becomes hard and impossible, when the people who are able to remember are dwindling rapidly. People that can remember the rich Jewish life of this community, which was eliminated in the fires of Treblinka. “How can one memorialize an entire community?” asked Eliezer Papo, the vice principal of the Ladino cultural center in the Ben Gurion University. “For that we have to go back, make a personal, individual memorial, and portray short scenes from the community life.” He described a vital Jewish community, which revolved around the Jewish tradition. He highlighted the synagogue as the center of communal life and the Zionist activity of a community who referred to Zionism as a part of the Jewish tradition. Irena Steinfeldt, head of the department of Righteous among the Nations at Yad Vashem, related that a spark of light in the darkness of the war came in the form of Bishop Smiljan C’ekada, a Catholic priest from Skopje, who was recently recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations, thanks to the research of the late Holocaust survivor Jenny Labelle. Labelle’s research followed the footsteps of the Bishop who demanded the release of the Jews that were kept in the camp ‘Monopol’ before transfer to Treblinka. The Bishop also hid Jewish children in his monastery, saving them from certain death. Paio Avirovitz, the ambassador of Macedonia in Israel, drew a line between the past, the present and the future of the Jewry of Macedonia. He described the Holocaust of the Macedonian Jews as a “tragedy that lives on in the collective memory of the Macedonian people”, and referred to the Holocaust research center that was recently opened in Skopje, the capital city of Macedonia, where the Jewish neighborhood stood before the Holocaust. “The victims have symbolically returned home. The national memory has a home. Each Macedonian Jew who perished in Treblinka has a home. Macedonia has its own Yad Vashem.” At the end of the event, representatives of Yad Vashem urged attendees to help Yad Vashem save fragments of memory, by giving Yad Vashem objects, documents, papers, photographs and even personal testimonies, in order to insure that the traces of the community will be forever remembered. -- Talia Alon

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Purim during the war years

Today in honor of Purim, the day celebrated in commemoration of a time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination, you can view a special online exhibition with pictures from Purim celebrations in Europe before, during and after the Holocaust.

Happy Purim to all those celebrating!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Yad Vashem on Jeopardy

On Wednesday, March 9th, Yad Vashem was featured as a category on "Jeopardy!"
"Jeopardy!", the #2 series in syndication, averages 9 million daily viewers and since its 1984 syndication debut, "Jeopardy!" has been honored with 28 Daytime Emmy Awards, more than any other syndicated game show. Eleven Emmys have been awarded for Outstanding Game Show/Audience Participation. Its host, Alex Trebek has won five Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Game Show Host.
You can see Yad Vashem around the 5:30 minute mark

Monday, March 7, 2011

Block 27 at Auschwitz closed as of March 7, 2011

From March 7, 2011 the exhibition in Block 27 "The Martyrdom and Struggle of the Jews in Europe from 1933 to 1945" at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum will be closed as work begins on preservation and renovation of the barrack, and building of the new exhibition.
The Hall of Remembrance will still be available for Israeli groups visiting the Auschwitz Memorial. The new exhibition, being prepared by Yad Vashem, will open in 2012.