Yesterday, Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev and Director General Natan Eitan presented certificates of appreciation to the employees who fought the fire that threatened Yad Vashem last week. At a special ceremony they paid tribute to some 30 Yad Vashem workers who stood on the front lines, fighting last weeks' wildfire in the Jerusalem Forest that threatened Yad Vashem's Campus. Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev commended the group of Jewish and Arab workers for their courage, and noted they did not hesitate to place themselves on the frontlines of the fire, implementing training they had received earlier this year. "I am here to tell you, friends: You did the job."
Reading from the certificate Shalev said, "Sunday, July 17, Yad Vashem faced a dangerous and difficult event: A fire broke out suddenly in the Jerusalem Forest and threatened to damage the Museum, the School, and our Archives. These are central buildings, well-known and vital to our activities as a commemorative institution, that educates the entire world about the Holocaust and its meaning for mankind. Some of Yad Vashem's employees took an important part in distancing the flames from the Institution. You are counted among this group of workers, which expressed their loyalty in a determined and especially dedicated way. Your joining in the firefighting activities and your standing steadfast in the face of the fire, added to the removal of this threat to Yad Vashem during critical minutes. Yad Vashem's managers, which worked side by side with you and your colleagues, were amazed by your courageous behavior, as were the entire Yad Vashem family who heard what happened that day."
In the words of Sami Abu-Diab, one of Yad Vashem's longtime workers, "I have been at Yad Vashem for 12 years, taking part in Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremonies. The night of the fire, I spent the night at Yad Vashem with 2 other workers as well as firefighters. This is like our home, it is our place."
(photos by Yad Vashem and Jim Hollander/EPA)