Yad Vashem has unveiled the latest contribution by a New Jersey family to the memory of Holocaust victims and for the support of survivors.
Zygmunt “Zygi” Wilf and his cousin Leonard Wilf were in Jerusalem May 1 for the dedication of the new Yad Vashem Square. Meant to serve as the main entrance to Israel’s official Holocaust remembrance authority, the cobbled plaza features the words “Yad Vashem” carved out of natural Hebron stone. It is adjacent to Hertzog Boulevard, at the entrance to the site on Mount Herzl.
In addition to the Yad Vashem Square, Wilf family members were among the major supporters of Yad Vashem’s Valley of the Communities memorial site. They also endowed the new Holocaust History Museum as well as the entrance plaza in front of the visitors’ center and underwrote Yad Vashem’s ongoing project to record testimonies of Holocaust survivors.
Zygi Wilf, who lives in Springfield, is trustee and secretary general of the Board of the American Society for Yad Vashem; Leonard Wilf is its chair.
“Yad Vashem is very important to our family, and we were happy to help with this project,” said Zygi Wilf, interviewed just after his return to New Jersey last week. “There was nothing really there before, and this provides a fitting entrance to Yad Vashem.”
The structure was designed by Shlomo Aronson Architects together with Yarom Vardimon, dean of the Faculty of Design at Shenkar College and a recipient of an Israel Prize in Design.
At the unveiling, Avner Shalev, chair of the Yad Vashem directorate, said it was important that the design be “modest and minimalist.”
“The square serves as a gradual transition between the daily reality of the Jerusalem city streets to the Mount of Remembrance and Yad Vashem, a visit which for many is a very meaningful and emotional experience,” Shalev added.
The new structure is visible on the skyline above the city.
“Yad Vashem is a central site that serves as the foundation for the commemoration of the Holocaust in Israel, with about a million visitors every year who come in order to remember and not forget,” said Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.