Established in 1953, Yad Vashem Museum is one of the most famous Jerusalem institutions – and comprises far more than just the world's largest Holocaust museum.
I live under the shadow of Yad Vashem and while for me this is a literal statement – my apartment is built on the mountain facing the museum – in a more figurative way, this is also true of most Israelis.
The mission of the memorial is encapsulated in its official name: Yad Vashem - The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. Its aim is to document the Holocaust and memorialize the six million Jews who perished in its flames, as well as the Righteous Among the Nations – those people who risked their lives to save victims of the Holocaust.
Located above the verdant Jerusalem forest, this is a 45-acre complex comprising two museums (the Holocaust History Museum and the Yad Vashem Museum of Art), the haunting Children's Memorial, the International School of Holocaust Studies, a research institute, library archives, exhibits, monuments and extensive sculpture gardens.
The History Museum is the newest addition to the campus. Carved into the mountain, the dramatic structure leads the visitor from an area filled with light, which catalogs the lives of European communities before the Holocaust, through increasingly dark and ominous galleries as the chronicle progresses. In a deeply architecturally symbolic design, there is light at the end of the tunnel – the gallery ends with a stunning floor to ceiling view of the mountains of Jerusalem. (Wave to me – from here, you can see my apartment, on the mountain opposite.)
The conclusion is inescapable - through the Holocaust, to the mountains of Jerusalem, the history of the Jewish people continues.
Yad Vashem also maintains a central data base that records the names and biographical details of the millions of Holocaust victims. This is a work in progress, and if you have knowledge of a Holocaust victim, you're asked to record the person's name and submit their story and photographs here, so that they will always be remembered.
You can find a complete listing of the many different exhibits, both permanent and temporary at the museum's website.
The following is a virtual tour of Yad Vashem. (Warning: some images may be disturbing.)
Sunday to Wednesday 9:00 a.m. to 17:00 p.m. On Thursday the Holocaust History Museum is open from 9:00 a.m. to 20:00 p.m, the rest of the campus closes at 17:00. Fri 9:00 to 14:00.
Note that on all days entrance is permitted only until one hour before closing time.Admission: