It is with some bafflement that I read the interview with Dr. Meir Wikler in the article “The Hareidim and Yom HaShoah” (N.Y. Minute, April 29).
As a haredi Jew who has visited Yad Vashem several times to do research, I have seen firsthand how they have been trying to reach out to the haredi world. In addition to the exhibits in the actual museum, Yad Vashem possesses a separate room with artifacts from various batei knesios [synagogues]. In the visual library there is a special section for haredi videos, and their educational department is specifically geared for the ultra-Orthodox.
Yad Vashem has never professed to be a haredi museum, and frankly, I feel it does a pretty good job. Even Dr. Wikler admits that there has been a great improvement, so why not give them credit instead of denigrating the secular leadership that is aiming to please?
Instead of criticizing Yad Vashem, perhaps it is time for us as religious Jews to ask, “What have we done?” Have we offered Yad Vashem artifacts that are in our possessions? Have we tried to play an active role? It’s easy to point fingers, but it’s no secret that as haredi Jews we tend to be much less involved in organizations like museums and we also shy away from being recorded for a public display.
One can’t expect that the non-haredi world will cater to our needs if we don’t actively roll up our sleeves and cooperate to make it happen. No one is forcing us to do so, but if we want the survivors’ — and victims’ — memories to be perpetuated, that will happen only if we join with the vast resources of Yad Vashem and help complete the picture.
Perhaps Yad Vashem can do a better job. However, before we pass judgment, let’s remember, so can we.