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USC Shoah Foundation partners with National Library of Israel

The joint effort will provide Israelis with access to the institute’s Visual History Archive, including testimonies from more than 52,000 Holocaust survivors and hundreds of survivors of the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks.

Robert J. Williams, executive director of the USC Shoah Foundation (left) and Sallai Meridor, chairman of the National Library of Israel, sign the Memorandum of Understanding in Jerusalem between the two partnered organizations, March 4, 2024. Photo by Menachem Schloss.
Robert J. Williams, executive director of the USC Shoah Foundation (left) and Sallai Meridor, chairman of the National Library of Israel, sign the Memorandum of Understanding in Jerusalem between the two partnered organizations, March 4, 2024. Photo by Menachem Schloss.

The USC Shoah Foundation announced on March 4 that it has partnered with the National Library of Israel to provide Israelis with the first countrywide access to the institute’s entire Visual History Archive, including testimonies from more than 52,000 Holocaust survivors and hundreds of survivors of the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks.

Robert J. Williams, USC Shoah Foundation Finci-Viterbi executive director chair, and Sallai Meridor, National Library of Israel chairman, announced the exclusive partnership during a March 4 signing event at the new National Library of Israel building in Jerusalem. As part of the agreement, the USC Shoah Foundation has created a customized page on the NLI website allowing anyone with an Israeli IP address to search, stream and download testimonies from survivors of the Holocaust and other antisemitic attacks (click here).

While the entire Visual History Archive is accessible at nearly 200 academic and cultural institutions around the world, the partnership with NLI makes Israel the only country where full access is available nationwide.

“The work of the USC Shoah Foundation with the National Library of Israel is a strong sign of what is possible when major institutions work in partnership in ways that elevate each other’s missions. Together, we are creating a resource that not only helps inform the global struggle against antisemitism, but one that also builds awareness and understanding of the Jewish people,” said Williams, who serves as UNESCO chair on Antisemitism, as well as Holocaust research and advisor to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. “It is vitally important that all our testimonies are available in Israel, where nearly half of the world’s remaining Holocaust survivors and the vast majority of Oct. 7 survivors live. The USC Shoah Foundation’s archive contains uniquely powerful sources that inform education, research and awareness-raising initiatives that bring people and societies face-to-face with the human beings who survived the world’s oldest hatred. By giving scholars, educators and the wider public additional access to these testimonies through the National Library of Israel, we are helping connect the past with the present in ways that can secure a better future for Israel and the wider international community.”

“The National Library of Israel is the keeper of national memory for the Jewish people and the State of Israel,” said Meridor. “This outstanding agreement will deepen the understanding of Israelis of all backgrounds and faiths as to humanity’s nadirs and zeniths, from the lowest levels of cruelty, brutality and malice to the highest points of resilience, faith and courage. We invite all users of the National Library website to watch and witness these testimonies, and hope fervently that our resolute pledge of ‘Never Again’ will continue to guide generations to come.”

National Library of Israel Partners With Shoah Foundation
Robert J. Williams, executive director of the USC Shoah Foundation (left) and Sallai Meridor, chairman of the National Library of Israel, officiate the signing ceremony in Jerusalem between the two partnered organizations, March 4, 2024. Photo by Menachem Schloss.

The March 4 National Library of Israel event kicked off the USC Shoah Foundation’s four-day Israel Solidarity Mission designed to foster collaboration in the fight against antisemitism. The mission also includes meetings with Israel President Isaac Herzog, a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, and conversations with Oct. 7 survivors and hostage families, as well as visits to sites of Oct. 7 mass atrocities in southern Israel.

In the past five months, the USC Shoah Foundation has gathered more than 400 testimonies of Oct. 7 survivors and eyewitnesses. The National Library of Israel, which opened its new building in the shadow of the war on Oct. 29, will serve as a central repository cataloging Oct. 7 testimonies collected by the USC Shoah Foundation and other organizations.

“Our collective work will represent the most comprehensive archival effort to chronicle antisemitic violence,” said Williams. “Researchers and storytellers—now and in the future—can turn to these archives as an irrefutable, publicly available resource to rely on in the ongoing fight against antisemitism.”

For more information, visit: www.nli.org.il/en/research-and-teach/holocaust-research.

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The National Library of Israel (NLI) is the dynamic institution of national memory for the Jewish people worldwide and Israelis of all backgrounds and faiths. As Israel's pre-eminent research library, NLI collections include the world's largest collection of textual Judaica, as well as world-class collections of Jewish and Islamic manuscripts, ancient maps, rare books, photographs, communal and personal archives, and more. NLI encourages diverse audiences in Israel and around the globe to engage with its treasures via innovative educational, cultural and digital initiatives, as well through a new landmark building that reflects NLI's core values of democratizing knowledge, and opening its resources to the broadest audience possible. For more information: www.nli.org.il/en
Our core purpose is to give opportunity to survivors and witnesses to the Shoah—the genocide of the Jews—to tell their own stories in their own words in audio-visual interviews, preserve their testimonies, and make them accessible for research, education, and outreach for the betterment of humankind in perpetuity.
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