Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev will step down after 27 years


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The chairman of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Museum told his staff that he will be leaving the position he has held for the past 27 years.

Avner Shalev, 81, made the announcement Sunday in a letter to his museum employees. He said he will remain through the end of the calendar year.

“Clearly is was not easy for me to reach this decision, and I made it after thorough self-examination,” Shalev wrote.

He did not provide any other reasons for leaving, according to the report. Shalev also sent a letter stating his intention to resign to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Yad Vashem has been closed for the past three months due to the coronavirus crisis, spurring a financial crisis. Its more than 100 employees are on unpaid leave.

The institution has had an active presence online, including lectures, panel discussions and virtual exhibitions. The annual Holocaust Remembrance Day torch-lighting ceremony was held at Yad Vashem without an audience.

During Shalev’s term, the museum building was expanded and renovated, and the Hall of Names, a collection of 4.8 million Holocaust victims’ names, was established. He also established the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem, which trains teachers from around the world.

Shalev, a Jerusalem native, ran the office of then-Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff David Elazar during the Yom Kippur War, and afterward was named the IDF’s chief education officer. He later was appointed head of cultural administration in the country’s Education Ministry.

No successor has been named.

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