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Opening Words at the Annual Holocaust and Heroism National Assembly 2016

This year's ceremony is dedicated to the memory of 1.5 million children who perished during the Holocaust and in honor of those that survived the ghettos, hiding places, forests and camps. After the war, these child survivors returned to life, contributed to the building and foundation of the State of Israel, as well as starting families and making amazing accomplishments.

As the world learned about the systematic killing of Europe's Jews that started in the latter part of 1942, Natan Alterman published a poem in his column called: "From Among All the Nations":

To Stand Only Once, One Single Day
In the Place Where for Years,
Like a Lamb,
Stands an Unknown Little Boy,
A Jew.

These words appear in the core exhibition of Yad Layeled, here at the Ghetto Fighters' House. This year we mark the 20th anniversary of this very special children's museum that is an integral part of this museum and its world view. The museum is about children and for children, documenting the struggle to survive of Jewish children who lived during the Holocaust: their inner strength that helped them to cope with fear and loss, and their taking on the responsibility of protecting younger siblings and parents. Innocent children had to instantly grow up and were thrown into a threatening and dark world with only a few sparks of light left in those days.

The museum, which now will be named "The Janusz Korczak Children's Memorial Museum", embodies the essence of Korczak's philosophy, especially the child-oriented approach. Dr. Korczak educated generations of children before the Holocaust. During the war, the orphanage that was directed by Korczak and Stefa Wilczyński stood like a lighthouse in the fog. In this spirit, the children's museum mediates the subject of the Holocaust to the young audience at their level, according to their ability and with the help of storytelling, theatrical experiences and creative workshops. Today, like then, we ask to create the same language from the world of children in the museum through education that is directed at preserving the memory of the Holocaust, and at the same time building trust in humankind and mutual responsibility for each other.

The Ghetto Fighters' Kibbutz and the museum were built immediately after the establishment of the State of Israel. They were involved with the Jewish Zionist youth movements. It was these youth movements that gave young boys and girls the strength and the ideological direction to support each other and together get involved in an extraordinary operation to educate the children in the ghettos and to lead the fighting underground fighting organizations and the uprising.

The last of the survivors were children during the Holocaust. In honor of them and in the memory of the victims as well as the survivors, we must continue to deal with preserving the memory for future generations that will not have the experience of a first-hand and authentic meeting with the witnesses and their testimonies. We must make sure that they understand and internalize the existential and moral meaning that is derived from the terrible tragedy.

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