Yad Vashem, the Holocaust remembrance and education center in Jerusalem, is launching a comprehensive new program aimed at raising the awareness and deepening knowledge of the Holocaust among Russian speakers. The new initiative is made possible by a four-year, $4 million grant from the Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG), a foundation dedicated to promoting Jewish identity for Russian-speaking Jews around the world.
The grant will promote inter-disciplinary projects in formal and informal education, research and publications, archival documentation, Internet outreach, exhibitions organization, and Righteous Among the Nations from the areas of the Former Soviet Union.
“The efforts to encourage meaningful education and commemoration of the Holocaust among Russian speakers are crucial, since the Holocaust is an important building block of Jewish identity, and a historical event that continues to reverberate among young people today,” said Avner Shalev, Chairman of Yad Vashem. “Unfortunately due to the historical circumstances, the study of the Holocaust in the areas of the Former Soviet Union has been underdeveloped over the years. The grant from Genesis will allow us to focus more intensively on this critical aspect of Holocaust education.”
“The Holocaust is a key issue that touches every Jew, even those who never experienced it within their own families”, said Stan Polovets, CEO and one of the five founders of GPG. “This tragedy with all the attached sorrow gives a deeper insight into Jewish history, teaches us about the wider perspective of Judaism, helping to strengthen Jewish identity among the Russian-speaking Jews and the sense of belonging to the Jewish people”.
Among the programs to be included in the initiative is a project to work with formal and informal educators in Russian-speaking communities in Israel to broaden Holocaust education in the schools and community centers. Each year, Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies will focus on two Israeli cities with large Russian speaking populations. Through seminars for educators and students, activities in community centers, and working with Holocaust survivors and World War II veterans, Holocaust education will be intensified throughout the community.
In addition, further effort will be spent on development and maintenance of the Russian language online interactive portal, containing documents, images, educational units and the interactive program “Children in the Ghetto”.
Another key aspect of the new program is the establishment of a special chair, within the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem, dedicated to advancing research of the Holocaust in the Former Soviet Union.