Rabbi Lau to open conference by lighting a menorah from Krakow


(26 December 2016 – Jerusalem) The Hanukah story is one that is centered on Jewish identity and symbolizes Jewish resilience and strength. Therefore, it is especially befitting that during the first-ever International Conference for Jewish Educators at Yad Vashem's International School for Holocaust Studies, entitled "The Shoah and Jewish Identity: Challenges in Jewish Education," there will be special Hanukah candle-lighting ceremonies using authentic Hanukiot (menorahs) from the Yad Vashem Artifacts Collection that survived the horrors of the Holocaust. "Each menorah has a unique story similar to those of Holocaust survivors themselves," says conference organizer Ephraim Kaye, Director of the Jewish World and International Seminars Department at the International School for Holocaust Studies. "Just as we use artifacts and testimonies to tell the story of the Holocaust, so, too, are these Menorahs examples of how Jews put themselves at risk to maintain their Jewish identities."


The International Conference, taking place 26-29 December 2016 (third-sixth days of Hanukah) will be kicked off with a special candle-lighting ceremony by world-renowned Holocaust survivor and Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council Rabbi Israel Meir Lau. Rabbi Lau, whose mother was from Krakow, will light the special "Krakow Menorah" a rare menorah crafted in Bruges (Brussels) which dates back to the late 18th or early 19th century. The menorah represents a façade of a wooden synagogue which was common in Lithuania and Poland up until the Shoah. Many of these synagogues were burned and destroyed during World War II. This multi-purpose menorah was also used to light the Sabbath candles on a weekly basis. At the end of the war, the returning Jews found the menorah with other items from this once thriving epicenter of Jewish life, and it was given to Yad Vashem for preservation and commemoration.



Other menorah being used at the conference is the world-famous Hanukah Menorah from Kiel, Germany. This menorah belonged to Rabbi Dr. Akiva Posner, who served as the last Rabbi of the community of Kiel, Germany from 1924-1933. With the rise of the Nazi Party to power, Rabbi Posner began protesting the insurgence of antisemitic sentiment in the city. Despite his efforts, tension and violence continued to rise in Kiel, forcing Rabbi Posner and his family to flee.  In 1933, he, his wife Rachel and their three children left for Eretz IsraelYehuda Mansbach, grandson of Rabbi Akiva and Rachel Posner, will light the menorah for the fourth night of Hanukkah.


In 1940, Zelig Scheinowitz crafted a simple wooden menorah from plywood while interned in the Westerbork detention camp. Scheinowitz worked in the clothing factory sorting and fixing cloths. Due to his profession, he managed to survive and together with his family and menorah, he was liberated in April 1945 by the Canadian Army. The menorah was eventually donated to Yad Vashem by Nachman Scheinowitz. Thirty-eight members of Scheinowitz family, including one survivor, will be present at the candle-lighting ceremony on 28 December 2016.


The stories of these Menorah and other artifacts can be found in an online exhibition, entitled "Hanukkah – The Festival of Lights."  In this moving exhibition, Yad Vashem shares with the public images, testimonies and artifacts of some of the ways this holiday was observed throughout Europe before, during and immediately after the Holocaust. 


About the conference: For the first time, over 200 Jewish day-school principals, headmasters and senior Jewish Studies educators, from 34 countries and six continents around the world, will be gathering at the Yad Vashem International School for Holocaust Studies for the conference. The international conference will be the largest and most prestigious gathering of leaders in Jewish education from Jewish day schools and centers for informal Jewish education worldwide. Throughout the course of the conference, leading experts from Yad Vashem will present its unique and cutting-edge pedagogical approaches relating to Holocaust education.


Over the years, the Yad Vashem Artifacts Collection has amassed one of the world's largest collection, containing some 30,000 items.  For more information about these Hanukiot and the Yad Vashem Archives and Artifacts Collection, please contact Simmy Allen, Head, International Media Section in Yad Vashem's Communications Division.



Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, was established in 1953. Located in Jerusalem, it is dedicated to Holocaust commemoration, documentation, research and education. www.yadvashem.org


Image Captions: All photos should be credited to Yad Vashem Photo Archives


Mansbach Menorah Image - A photograph taken in 1932 by Rachel, wife of Rabbi Akiva Posner, of their candle-lit Hanukkah menorah against the backdrop of the Nazi flags flying from the building across from their home in Kiel Germany

Krakow Menorah Image - Krakow Poland - Hanukkah Menorah in the shape of a synagogue. 


Westerbrook Menorah Image – In 1940, Zelig Scheinowitz crafted a simple Hanukkah menorah in the camp from plywood for the use of his family.


DP Camp Menorah Image - The truncated tree and a sprouting leaf on this Hannukah menorah are the symbol of She’arit Hapleta (The Surviving Remnant).


 Photo provided by 

Communications Division  Yad Vashem