In your April 29 “N.Y. Minute” interview (“The Haredim And Yom HaShoah”), Dr. Meir Wikler criticizes Yad Vashem while at the same time inexplicably taking credit for various shifts he notes in Yad Vashem’s Holocaust History Museum.
Gaps that occurred in the past have been bridged because of positive discourse with the leaders of the haredi world; gaps that Wikler’s unfounded critique exacerbates rather than bridges. To state that physical resistance is the focus of Yad Vashem’s activities, to the detriment of spiritual heroism of all kinds, is wrong and misleading, demonstrating a view unrelated to reality. Yad Vashem seeks to meaningfully impart the story of the Shoah in all its complexity and variety with a special emphasis on spiritual heroism. The activities of Yad Vashem in recent decades — its new museums, exhibitions, online material (viewed by over 11 million people last year), educational approaches and more —prove the contrary.
Sincere dialogue between Yad Vashem and the leadership of haredi Jewry, and their representatives over the years, has resulted in productive educational activity with the Bais Yaakov and other haredi educational systems, and in genuine partnerships with Agudath Israel of America and the Belz community in Israel, to name just a few. Indeed, for nearly a decade, an ultra-Orthodox (haredi) department in Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies has been working closely with educators, to prepare educational material such as the multi-volume curriculum “Years Wherein We Have Seen Evil” and seminars — at Yad Vashem and elsewhere — serving haredi educators and students throughout Israel.
Wikler says that “more than half of the survivors were haredi.” Where are the facts to back up such an assertion? Yet, it is immaterial to the issue. Yad Vashem strives, in all its myriad activities, to present the story of the Jewish people during the Shoah. The Jewish people, then as today, is made up of many types of Jews, all of whom find representation in the Holocaust History Museum and other work of Yad Vashem.