New Yad Vashem Project Will Memorialize 4,500 Jewish Communities Destroyed by Nazis in Europe

Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial center in Jerusalem, is launching a new six-million dollar project to commemorate the more than 4,500 Jewish communities destroyed by the Nazis in Europe. The memorial, named “The Valley of the Destroyed Communities,” will be constructed on eight acres of the Yad Vashem site on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem.

“It is envisaged that the Valley of the Destroyed Communities will become a major national memorial for many generations to come, and it is our hope that it will be built with the support of the Jewish people in Israel and other countries around the world,” Dr. Yitzhak Arad, chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate said in on interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

A JEWISH WORLD DESTROYED

Arad observed that with the six million Jews who were killed by the Nazis, 4,500 Jewish communities were completely destroyed in 22 European countries. “The destruction of these communities meant the destruction of an entire Jewish world, Jewish culture and Jewish way of life that was formed in a course of a thousand years.

The Valley of Destroyed Communities will memorialize a world that has been annihilated which has sunk beneath the earth leaving only its ruins as an indication that it once existed in all its greatness,” Arad said.

Arad said that the names of the destroyed communities will be engroved in stone on rockforms arranged according to their location in Europe. The landscape architects for the project are Lipa Yaholom and Saniel Zur, together with Elisha Haussmann. Their plan won the first prize in a competition in which 18 Israeli architects participated.

Arad is in the United States to enlist American Jewish support for the project. The American Society of Fellows of Yad Vashem was recently formed for that purpose. Its chairman is Eli Zborowski and its honorary chairman is the writer Eli Wiesel.

The Valley of the Destroyed Communities project will be carried out over the next five years, Arad said. Its completion will complete the whole commemorative site on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem.

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