Dear friends and colleagues,
The 2011-2012 working year has not been an easy one for the Ghetto Fighters’ House. A new director and subsequent turnover in department heads – for the archives, marketing, finance, and education divisions – in the wake of budget cuts and belt-tightening, created tension and concerns. But there are moments, such as this with the birth of a newsletter, when we are invited to raise our eyes from the piles of work on our desks, look around, and notice the signs of change and renewal. I would like to draw attention to some events that are very current:
· The Academic Advisory Panel, composed of experts in the fields of education and history, has begun to meet. This panel, formed for the purpose of strengthening and revitalizing our educational activity, has held several sessions and given impetus to the creation of new program content.
· A project was launched to renovate the history-based exhibitions on the main museum’s first floor. Funding has been allocated by Kibbutz Lohamei Haghetaot (the Ghetto Fighters’ Kibbutz) and the Claims Conference, a curator and exhibition designer were chosen – both with rich international experience – and a Steering Committee has begun to work on the topics of the Ghettos and Jewish Youth Movements during the Holocaust. We view these two exhibitions as the start of a series and hope to raise the funds required to renovate the remaining exhibitions as well.
· The Archives Department has begun to integrate new photographic technologies for uploading the GFH collection to the Internet. The archival digitization project has been in progress for several years, and now is upgrading to state-of-the-art technology.
· We have recently strengthened our connection with Kibbutz Lohamei Haghetaot – on whose grounds GFH stands and whose members are among its founders. This is reflected in dialogue and a sincere desire for involvement and cooperation.
· We have deepened our ties with academic institutions: GFH hosted 150 students from the Holocaust Studies Program at the nearby Western Galilee Academic College, and with the College jointly hosted an international academic conference on the future of Holocaust testimonies. Ties have also been forged with Haifa University, which will offer a Master’s Degree in Holocaust Studies in the coming year in partnership with GFH, as we provide research opportunities and internships at our Archives.
· Efforts are being made to attract the general public in a range of ages. Recently a multi-media guide was developed for self-guided tours, making visits easier and more enriching for those who are not part of a group. During the interim days of Passover, special thematic activities were organized for children and families at “Yad LaYeled” and the main museum. A high point was the pair of evening programs called “Between the Sirens,” a new event with talks and discussions on diverse subjects in the broad context of Holocaust memory, its significance and its relevance for our lives. Some 500 people participated and their feedback was warm and appreciative.
· At present we are intensely involved in programming around the upcoming 70th anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. We view this as an opportunity to raise the level of our educational and cultural activity, and increase public awareness of us.
· This year we created a new infrastructure for fundraising, and are revitalizing the “Friends of GFH” Associations in Israel and the United States.
· Let me take this opportunity to thank from the bottom of my heart those cherished colleagues who have dedicated years of work to the Ghetto Fighters’ House, and retired over the past year: Archives Department Director Yossi Shavit and Financial Director Miri Ben-Shoshan.
It is now eight months that I have served in this position at the Museum. I was given a warm welcome and, despite the difficulties and shake-ups, the staff of the House – dedicated and professional – has been supportive and pulled together to help achieve the goals we set. The road is long, but I truly believe that together we can meet the challenges and forge new paths.
Dr. Anat Livne, Director, the Ghetto Fighters’ House