Friday, May 02, 2008
This week Israel observed Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust Remembrance Day, a holiday inaugurated in 1959 to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. This is an especially important day to Yad Vashem, the Jerusalem-based center for remembering the Holocaust's victims and survivors. I was fortunate to tour Yad Vashem's New Museum with my family last summer, and was moved and inspired by the experience. Our guide told us an anecdote about a visitor, a survivor of the camps, who recognized an item in one exhibit and was able to explain its context to museum curators and fellow visitors. This is why Yad Vashem is so important: it's a place that preserves the horrible history of the Holocaust and puts it in context for all of us.
But a lot of people, including many survivors, aren't able to visit Yad Vashem. How can they discover and share stories? How can they see an artifact or a photo and say, I recognize that item or person because I was there? The answer, of course, is the Internet.
We're proud to report that Yad Vashem has just launched two new YouTube channels, one in English, the other in Arabic. They feature testimonies from Holocaust survivors, historians' lectures on key issues related to the Holocaust, and footage of events big and small (Pope John Paul II's visit in 2000, a touching family reunion). More importantly, they are a way for Yad Vashem to surpass its physical boundaries and reach out to an audience worldwide. This is the promise the Internet holds: to inform and connect the globe, to remember stories, to teach us. As Elie Wiesel said in his speech at the opening of the museum: "If we decided to tell the tale, it is because we wanted the world to be a better world, just a better world, and learn and remember."