|From the Desk of Ronen Plot – Yad Vashem, Jerusalem|
14 April 2021
It is an honor for me to write to you, Yad Vashem’s closest supporters worldwide, as Acting Chairman of the Directorate. This is a temporary position which I have taken upon myself as a volunteer since February 1st, at the request of my renowned and accomplished predecessor, Avner Shalev, and the rest of the Directorate. I will hold the position until the confirmation of a permanent full-time Chairman by the new Israeli Government, still to be formed. In the interim, it is a great privilege for me to join Yad Vashem’s leadership during this challenging period of transition.
Although I was of course previously acquainted with Yad Vashem – in part thanks to my former position as Director General of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, and my current role as Mayor of the northern city of Nof Hagalil – my new role at Yad Vashem reveals to me daily many noteworthy aspects of this truly extraordinary institution. These outstanding characteristics were featured prominently last week, during our observances of Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, which occurred simultaneously with Israel’s gradual emergence from COVID-19 restrictions.
This year’s events on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem included the first major actual State gathering in Israel since the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020. It was especially moving for us to welcome Shoah survivors and their families back to our campus, together with groups of soldiers, high school students and teachers, representatives of the media, and even several friends of Yad Vashem from overseas. The participants, as well as Yad Vashem’s devoted staffers, willingly cooperated with remaining health-related limitations, still in place to ensure the public’s wellbeing.
These welcome developments in no way diminish or detract from Yad Vashem’s very extensive and varied on-line activity, which was substantially expanded and enhanced since last spring. Clearly, incremental transition into a new post-COVID “normalcy” will include the continuation of our comprehensive online presence. With critical challenges confronting us around the world – antisemitism, racism, Holocaust distortion and more – our cause is as vital as ever.
Soon after Yom Hashoah, Yad Vashem’s perpetual centrality as a global focus for meaningful remembrance was reaffirmed during the visit here of the new US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin. I was proud to host the Secretary, accompanied by Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, at our Flashes of Memory exhibit and the Hall of Remembrance, and to introduce to him the incoming Co-Chairs of the American Society for Yad Vashem, Mark Moskowitz and Adina Burian.
As the grandson of Holocaust victims and survivors, the son of a World War II veteran who lost a leg fighting the Nazis, and today an Israeli civic leader, I have long known that periods of turmoil, loss and uncertainty can also yield hope and progress. I believe that our current complex circumstances confirm that encouraging insight. I look forward to learning about your insights and perspectives regarding the issues and opportunities which we face – together.
Yad Vashem Directorate