Tag Archives: Holocaust

Technology at Israel Museums

The Google Art Project spent months mapping the Israel Museum with cameras mounted atop bicycles and photographing 520 objects, artifacts and artwork from the Museum’s collection. The outcome is an online compilation of high-resolution images accessible over the Internet and a virtual tour of the museum using Google’s Street technology. The Israel Museum was among 151 museums in 40 countries taking part in the second phase of the project. Currently more than 30,000 high-resolution objects from museums around the world are available for viewing and items can be found by various keywords, location, artist, collections, etc.

Archaeological items included are the only dedicatory inscription mentioning Pontius Pilate, the procurator of Judea in the time of Jesus found at Caesarea, the oldest Biblical text, Priestly Blessing from Numbers 6:23 on silver amulet found in tomb at Ketef Hinnom in Jerusalem (you can read my blog post at https://israeltours.wordpress.com/2011/03/16/ketef-hinnom-silver-amulet/ ) and Theodotus synagogue inscription in Greek found near the Temple Mount. There is also artwork, for example, the triptych Gates of Jerusalem by Mordecai Ardon (you can read my blog post on the Ardon Windows at https://israeltours.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/ardon-windows-isaiah-vision-peace/).

The Google Art Project creates images larger than 1 billion pixels in size, the zoom-in feature allows viewers to get inside cracks in the parchment and other details that are not visible to the naked eye – a really fascinating collection of treasures worth exploring. Kudos to the Israel Museum for making these images available.

The project follows last year’s collaboration with Google to make the famed Dead Sea Scrolls accessible in high resolution on the Internet. When announced the site drew a million viewers within the first few days. Five of the Scrolls, including the Great Isaiah Scroll 1QIsaone of the original seven Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in Qumran in 1947 are viewable at http://dss.collections.imj.org.il/isaiah.

Google has also partnered with Israel’s Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, to make its photographs and documents searchable on the Internet.

“Mendel takes out his camera. No more flowers, clouds, natures, stills or landscapes. Amid the horror all around him he has found his destiny: to photograph and leave behind a testimony for all generations about the great tragedy unfolding before his eyes.”

Mendel Grossman’s photos constitute a small portion of the historical photos in Yad Vashem’s collection. The project will facilitate preservation of and access to the world’s largest historical collection on the Holocaust. Google implemented experimental optical character recognition (OCR) technology to carry out this project, making previously difficult to locate documents now searchable and discoverable online. As of today, 130,000 photos from Yad Vashem’s archive, the largest of its kind in the world, are viewable in full resolution online. The collections are visible at http://collections.yadvashem.org/photosarchive/en-us/photos.html. This is a first step towards bringing the vast Yad Vashem archive online over time.

Yad Vashem has also launched a YouTube channel to showcase a series of videos of Holocaust survivor testimonials. The YouTube channel is available at www.youtube.com/yadvashem. There is also a YouTube channel with more than 400 hours of original video footage from the landmark 1961 Jerusalem trial of Nazi mastermind Adolf Eichmann at http://www.youtube.com/user/EichmannTrialEN.

If you know of other technology projects that are being developed in Israel please share by leaving a comment about them. If you peruse the images leave a comment here of your impression.

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Sites around Akko

There are many well-known sites in Israel that are popular, that visitors see again and again while missing out on other hidden gems. Many people have seen the Chagall Windows at Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem but far fewer probably know about the stained-glass windows that Israeli artist, Mordecai Ardon designed. Many people have visited Yad Vashem but far fewer have visited Lohamei HaGetaot, a kibbutz near Akko founded by those who fought and survived the Nazis.

Many people are familiar with the Bahá’í gardens in Haifa but far fewer have visited the Bahá’í gardens just north of Akko. The gardens in Haifa comprise a staircase of nineteen terraces extending all the way up the northern slope of Mount Carmel. The golden-domed Shrine of the Báb, the resting place of the Prophet-Herald of the Bahá’í Faith, stands on the central terrace, looking across the bay towards Akko. There the gardens at Bahjí reflect the beauty and serenity of the Haifa gardens.

The gardens form a large circle surrounding the historic mansion where Bahá’u’lláh, the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, lived during the final years of his life after he was released from Acre Prison by the Ottoman Turks and the shrine where he is buried.

Later during the British Mandate period, Jewish resistance fighters were held in the Acre prison and 9 died there on the gallows. Today the prison is a museum and has been recently updated to dramatically retell the story of the Hagana, Irgun and Lehi struggle with the British, definitely worth a visit. There is another less well-known museum to the underground prisoners in Jerusalem in the Russian compound.

The Old City of Akko was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001. In July 2008, the Bahá’í Gardens in Haifa and Akko were listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites, in recognition of their “outstanding universal value” as holy places and places of pilgrimage. Like all great works of art, these extraordinary sites are tangible expressions of the human spirit.

One of the striking formations near the entrance is a trimmed hedge in the form of an aqueduct. Many people are familiar with the aqueduct that Herod built, onto which the Romans tacked a second aqueduct to bring water to Caesarea but there is another less well-known aqueduct. Just north of Akko, by Kibbutz Lohamei HaGetaot is an aqueduct from the Ottoman period built on an earlier one from the Hellenistic period that was built to bring water from the Cabri springs to Akko.

Kibbutz Lohamei HaGetaot was founded in 1949 by a community of Holocaust survivors, members of the Jewish underground in the ghettos of Poland, and veterans of partisan units. Integral to the kibbutz from the beginning was the Ghetto Fighters’ House – Itzhak Katzenelson Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Heritage Museum for documenting and researching the Holcaust. The museum serves as a testimony to the stories of the survivors and an expression of the return of the Jewish people to our land.

Beside it is Yad Layeled (Monument to Children), an educational center commemorating the one and a half million Jewish children murdered in the Holocaust. The building was designed by Ram Carmi of two main architectural elements: a central 3-story cone and a descending ramp that encircles the cone and defines the path through the space. The space is lit by natural light that enters through a circular stained-glass window on the domed ceiling of the cone that becomes dimmer as you descend until you reach the innermost sanctum and eternal flame.

Yad Layeled gives the visitor an intimate view of the children’s world during the Holocaust and opens a door to their dramatic experiences and pain. It is unique in that it is intended to reach out to young people (ages 10 and up). The other permanent exhibitionis dedicated to Dr. Janusz Korczak, a Polish-Jewish doctor, author and educator who devoted his life to children. Many people visit Yad VaShem but fewer people know about Lohamei HaGetaot. That’s a good reason to hire a guide – a guide can take you places and share experiences that you probably won’t discover on your own.

Oskar Schindler’s grave

Oskar Schindler died on September 10, 1974 in Hildesheim, Germany at the age of 66. He had requested to be buried in Israel and his Schindlerjuden survivors arranged for him to be buried in Jerusalem. You can visit his grave in the Catholic cemetery on Mount Zion. For those with GPS the coordinates are 31.770164, 35.230423

The cemetery is on the main road, Ma’ale HaShalom that goes to the Mount Zion parking lot. The cemetery has 2 levels and Schindler’s grave is on the second, lower level. There are a set of steps on the left side of the cemetery after you enter that let you descend to the lower level. The grave is right beside one of the paths, recognizable from afar because of the many stones on the gravestone. It’s a Jewish custom to put a small stone on the gravestone when you visit a person’s grave. On his grave, the Hebrew inscription reads ‘Righteous Gentile’, and the German inscription reads ‘The Unforgettable Lifesaver of 1200 Persecuted Jews’.

In 1962 a tree was planted in Schindler’s honor in the Avenue of the Righteous at Yad Vashem. Oskar and Emilie Schindler were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations in 1993.

In 1999 a suitcase belonging to Schindler was discovered in the attic of the house in Hildesheim, containing over 7,000 photographs and documents, including the list of Schindler’s Jewish workers. The contents of the suitcase, including the list of the names of those he had saved and the text of his farewell speech before leaving his Jewish workers in 1945, are now at the Holocaust museum of Yad Vashem in Israel.

Before or after visiting the cemetery you may want to visit the small Holocaust museum on Mount Zion.