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February 05, 1988 - Image 76

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-02-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

I FOCUS

Nathan Rappaport's "Uprising" at Yad Vashem captures the spirit of the last days of the Warsaw Ghetto, but
research and documentation regarding the Warsaw Ghetto and other aspects of the Holocaust are being en-
dangered by a financial crisis.

Yad Vashem
Is In Trouble y

ARYEH DEAN COHEN

Special to The Jewish News

The world's foremost institution
for Holocaust commemoration
and research, deep in debt for
routine maintenance and utility
bills, has been forced to shut
down some of its most vital
activities.

76

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 1988

ad Vashem, the fore-
most institution in the
world for Holocaust
commemoration and re-
search, came close to shutting
down recently, narrowly
averting closure through last-
minute Knesset action.
As a result of its crippling
financial crisis, Yad Vashem
recently stopped taking testi-
mony of survivors, and has
severely curtailed its pursuit
of vital documents related to
the Holocaust.
Visitors to Yad Vashem
may not notice its problems.
Building is continuing on
projects funded by donors, in-
cluding a new third floor for
Yad Vashem offices.
But the institution's led-
gers tell another story; one of
debts to security and utility
companies and other overdue
maintenance bills.
Faced with this sorry situa-
tion, Yad Vashem Chairman
Dr. Yitzhak Arad has threat-
ened to close Yad Vashem.
With no money for salaries or
maintenance, Arad was
forced to act despite Yad
Vashem's recognized status
as a national institution

whose creation and activities
are firmly rooted in Israeli
law.
The 1953 Martyrs' and
Heroes' Commemoration
(Yad Vashem) Law estab-
lished a "Remembrance Au-
thority" in Jerusalem "to
gather in to the homeland
material regarding all those
members of the Jewish People
who laid down their lives, who
fought and rebelled against
the Nazi enemy and his col-
laborators, and to perpetuate
their memory and that of the
communities, organizations
and institutions which were
destroyed because they were
Jewish."
The law also calls on Yad
Vashem to "collect, examine
and publish all testimony of
the disaster and heroism, and
to bring home its lesson to
the people." Current financial
conditions make those tasks
impossible for Yad Vashem to
carry out.
The Yad Vashem archives
are crumbling. Documents
are literally falling to pieces,
with no funds to repair or
treat them. Displays are in
sad need of renovation. Edu-
cational projects are on hold.
Yad Vashem, created to help
the world remember, has been
forgotten and is languishing

in a state of neglect.
Several factors merged to
bring on this crisis: Israel's
chronic cash shortage, inter-
ministerial wrangling and
Arad's reluctance to go public
with the problem before ex-
hausting other available
means.
The harsh reality is that
Israel's financial pie is get-
ting smaller despite improve-
ments in the inflation rate.
Israel's $48 billion national
budget is quickly halved to
$24 billion after deducting
payment of the nation's
debts. As a result, money for
cultural institutions like Yad
Vashem is scarcer.
Funded by the Education
Ministry Yad Vashem's 1987-
88 budget was about $1.3
million, a figure set by the
Education Ministry several
years ago, and has not been
increased for some time. But
it has been significantly
eroded by inflation.
Meanwhile, its tasks have
grown monumentally. This
year alone, one million vis-
itors came to Yad Vashem,
including many foreign digni-
taries. There are endless
requests for educational proj-
ects, and the demands of
research to confront those
who would deny the Holo-

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