ICEJ salute to Mr. Shaya Ben Yehuda

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19 Feb 2021
ICEJ salute to Mr. Shaya Ben Yehuda

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem wishes to salute Mr. Shaya Ben Yehuda, the outgoing Director of the International Relations Division at Yad Vashem, as he heads into retirement. Shaya has left a significant mark at Yad Vashem by helping to shape that revered institution into a globally renown, state-of-the-art museum and research center here in Jerusalem. He helped to educate millions about the Holocaust by recognizing and giving a name and memory to the over six million victims who perished during the Nazi genocide against the Jewish people.

Countless Jews and Christians as well have visited Yad Vashem and left with the commitment “Never Again!” Shaya’s vision and efforts helped Yad Vashem to reach out to many non-Jewish communities around the world. His contributions were in many ways historic, as he personally led the effort to reach out to the global Evangelical community and to establish the ‘Christian Desk’ at Yad Vashem. Since Christians were among the greatest perpetrators of the Holocaust, this represented a particularly bold step for Yad Vashem that eventually also found the approval of Israel’s president and prime minister.

Mr. Shaya Ben Yehuda found an equally visionary partner in this regard in Rev. Malcolm Hedding, then-Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. Together, they formed a partnership which led to the establishment of Christian Friends of Yad Vashem. Through its work until today, countless Christians and in particular pastors have learned about the Holocaust, met survivors of the Shoah, and were empowered to fight antisemitism and anti-Israelism around the globe.

“The warmth and friendship which Shaya Ben Yehuda demonstrated towards Christians from around the world makes him an unforgettable bridge-builder and pioneer in Jewish-Christian relations,” said Malcolm Hedding, who worked closely with Ben Yehuda for many years. “Shaya’s insights into biblical truth also helped Christians from many countries to understand their Bible better and especially the Jewish context in which it was written. Shaya will always be remembered as a remarkable educator and scholar.”

“Because of Shaya, today the ICEJ and countless Christians from around the world have become better friends and allies of Israel and have been better educated about their own history,” said Dr Jürgen Bühler, ICEJ President. “For this and for Shaya’s uncompromising friendship, the ICEJ will always look back with gratitude on his bold, pioneering leadership at Yad Vashem.”

On behalf of our branches and representatives in over 90 nations, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem expresses our thanks to Shaya Ben Yehuda for the outstanding direction he gave to the International Relations Division for over twenty years, and for expanding its work to include Christian participation in Yad Vashem’s many important activities. We wish him the best and God’s blessings on all his future endeavours.

The ICEJ also wholeheartedly welcomes Dr Haim Gertner in his role as the new Director of the International Relations Division at Yad Vashem and wishes him all success. We very much look forward to a close relationship with him and his staff in the years to come.