Yad Vashem solicitation irks Holocaust survivors

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JERUSALEM — Holocaust survivors have reacted angrily to a fund-raising campaign by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.

In a letter sent to Holocaust survivors, Yad Vashem said families could purchase plaques with the names of loved ones who perished in the Holocaust.

The cost of the plaques would range from about $500 to $1,500, depending on the size of the plaque.

"After I received the letter, I couldn't sleep all night," Paula Tik, a 66-year-old survivor who lost her family in the Holocaust, told the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot.

"I felt angry, insulted and hurt. I would like to remember dozens of my relatives who perished, and such a plaque could be the only grave that memorializes them, but I can't economically handle it."

Amcha, an organization which provides support for survivors and their families, said the project was insensitive.

"We think memorializing the victims of the Holocaust is very important for survivors to fulfill a need to feel they have done everything to honor their loved ones' memories in a dignified way. Amcha would expect that there would be great sensitivity to such a matter, to ensure that there is no inequality between victims."

Yad Vashem said in response that the "Cave of Remembrance," where the plaques are to be placed, was only an additional option for remembering the Holocaust victims, and that the idea was first proposed by numerous families who sought such an expression.

Yad Vashem has the "Hall of Remembrance," where victims of the Holocaust are commemorated at no cost, said Avital Bar, a spokeswoman for Yad Vashem.

The way for the new project was cleared in 1994, when Israel's Supreme Court rejected a petition against it.

The justices ruled that Yad Vashem was acting within its statutory authority in establishing the new remembrance hall, and was authorized to receive contributions for special purposes under agreements reached between the contributor and Yad Vashem.