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Carta de Shaya Ben Yehuda, Managing Director, International Relations Division de Yad Vashem

Carta de Shaya Ben Yehuda, Managing Director, International Relations Division de Yad Vashem

Dear Sam,

I hope this email finds you and yours well and in good health.

We are all facing a very challenging period, which propels us to reflect on our basic needs and core values. When I was in the hospital two weeks ago because of severe back problems, I had the opportunity to speak with fellow patients about the current pandemic situation. One of the main issues, which became very apparent to me, was the differences between polarities in Israel, outside of and within the hospital.

I regularly follow the discussions about minorities in Israeli society and the relationships between different sectors in Israel. When I was hospitalized, I was welcomed by an Arab doctor and an Arab nurse, I shared a room with people of different ethnicities, different political views and different backgrounds. Between us, the roommates, however, no one felt the differences. We all spoke with each other as equals.

This made me think about the basic human values necessary in order to build a healthy and strong society, a society based on respect and equality. When I look back to my few days in the hospital, and to the feelings of unity and mutual respect I experienced there, it was obvious there that we are all vulnerable. It was clear that despite the fact that we are all different, we are all part of a singular humanity and created equal.

During the Holocaust, this basic notion of being part of humanity was ignored by the Nazis; it was as if it didn’t exist. The Nazis classified the Jews and other groups of people as sub-human, which eventually led to their attempts at total annihilation of the Jewish race, the implementation of the Final Solution. 

Today, during a time we never imagined we would see in our days, when a third of humanity is living under quarantine because of the Coronavirus pandemic spread all over the world, we have to understand that we don’t just share the same planet, but we also depend on one another to make it better. What starts on one side of the world impacts the farthest corner soon after.

Yad Vashem’s work, which is currently being done remotely because the campus and offices are closed to visitors and staff, is to continue to teach about the Holocaust and the lessons we can learn from that time. The core of our work is aimed at building and strengthening universal values based on the understanding of our equality as human beings, and promoting solidarity within communities, societies and nations. From the survivors of the Holocaust, we learn how even in the darkest of times it is possible to overcome difficulties and build new life. From them we learn of the vibrant Jewish world that was destroyed and the responsibility we must assume in order to continue to rebuild the Jewish world today. Especially during these challenging times, Yad Vashem has an important message to send and a central role to play.

Because of the current situation, we can primarily share and provide accessibility to our content via the Yad Vashem website and online activities. Our content is available in several languages, including Hebrew, English, Spanish, German, French and Russian.

We are working diligently to continue to develop online content which is relevant for our days.

Wishing you and the family a Happy Passover, to our Christian friends a Happy Easter and good health to us all.

Warm regards,