How Do We Establish Memory? Professor Doron Bar on the Creation of Yad Vashem

Memory or heroism? Victims or heroes? What should a museum commemorate? Professor Doron Bar, President of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, shares insights into how Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial and museum, was established. He focuses on the Hall of Remembrance, a less frequented site in the Yad Vashem complex, and its meaning to him and to his students. Watch the video below:

Read the accompanying article about the establishment of Yad Vashem, including original architectural renderings of the site.

From the article introduction:

Yad Vashem, a symbolic focal point devoted to the memory and commemoration of the Holocaust, is one of Israel’s foremost official sites. The Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance (Yad Vashem) Law passed by Israel’s Knesset in August 1953 provided for the founding of a Remembrance Authority and led to the establishment of Yad Vashem in the same year. The law defined the objectives of the authority and determined that among its other functions, it would

assemble in the homeland the memory of all those children of the Jewish people who fell and gave their lives, fought and rose up against the Nazi enemy and its collaborators, and [would] place a monument and memorial to them, to the communities, to the organizations, and to the institutions that were destroyed because they belonged to the Jewish people.*

While the law stipulates the commitment to commemorate the Holocaust and the heroism of that period in the same breath, the question of what heroism is, and how it should be expressed at Yad
Vashem, is complex and has evolved over time.

*The Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance (Yad Vashem) Law 5713-1953, The Statute Book, no. 132, 8 Elul 5713, Aug. 19, 1953, paragraph 2.