A former chief rabbi of Israel has been appointed the chairman of the Yad Vashem Council.
Rabbi Israel Meir Lau’s appointment was approved Sunday by Israel’s Cabinet. He succeeds the late Joseph “Tommy” Lapid.
Lau, the scion of a well-known rabbinic family, was incarcerated in the Piotrkow ghetto. He and his mother escaped deportation to Treblinka, where most of his family was killed.
In November 1944, Lau and his brother Naftali were sent to the Czenstochov forced labor camp and then to the Buchenwald concentration camp. Lau at 8 was the youngest surviving prisoner when Buchenwald was liberated by U.S. soldiers. Lau immigrated to Israel on a ship of orphaned refugee children.
“With feelings of awe, I thank Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the members of the government who ratified the appointment for choosing me to serve as the new chairman of the Yad Vashem Council,” Lau said. “As we mark 70 years since Kristallnacht – the violent outbreak that marked the beginning of the Holocaust – this appointment is especially meaningful to me. My life experiences echo in the walls of Yad Vashem, and are found in the documents and exhibits therein.
Lau served as the chief Ashkenazi rabbi of Israel from 1993 to 2003. He currently serves as the chief rabbi of Tel Aviv.
In 2006 he was awarded the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement and special service to society and the State of Israel.