About Yad Vashem
Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate
Avner Shalev has been Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate since 1993. From the beginning of his tenure, Shalev has strived to redefine Holocaust remembrance and education, introducing a far-reaching multiyear redevelopment plan with the goal of preparing Yad Vashem to meet the challenges of Holocaust commemoration in the 21st century. To that end, he has put education at the forefront of Yad Vashem’s activities by opening the International School for Holocaust Studies, as well as enlarging Yad Vashem’s archives and research facilities, and building a new Museum Complex. He is Chief Curator of the Holocaust History Museum that opened in 2005. During his tenure he also brought about the uploading of Yad Vashem’s Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names onto the Internet, harnessing modern technology in the service of Holocaust remembrance and education. In 2003, Shalev accepted the Israel Prize on behalf of Yad Vashem, in recognition of Yad Vashem’s special contribution to the society and State of Israel. In 2007, Shalev was awarded the Legion of Honor by French President Nicolas Sarkozy for his efforts on behalf of Holocaust awareness worldwide, and also accepted Spain’s Prince of Asturias Award for Concord on behalf of Yad Vashem. In June 2011 he received the Worthy of Jerusalem Award from the City of Jerusalem.
Born in 1939 in Jerusalem, Shalev served in the Israel Defense Forces between 1956 and 1980, reaching the rank of brigadier general. Shalev was wounded in action on the Egyptian front during the Six-Day War. Between 1972 and 1974 he served as bureau chief for IDF Chief of Staff David Elazar. Other military positions held by Shalev included: education officer at the IDF Officers School, head of the Information and Instruction Division of the General Staff; Chief Education Officer and head of the Education Corps, where he was editor-in-chief of the IDF Radio Station and the IDF weekly magazine; and senior lecturer at the IDF National Security College.
After retiring from military service, Shalev served as Director General of the Culture Authority in the Ministry of Education and Culture, and chairman of the National Culture and Art Council. He has also served on the directorate of various national museums and cultural institutions in Israel. In these positions he was instrumental in formulating and directing national culture policy, and encouraging, supporting and overseeing the funding of all types of cultural and artistic activity in Israel. Shalev also instituted policies to raise the standards of Israel’s leading cultural bodies, and advanced and promoted new cultural programs—such as art and culture festivals throughout the country—in order to increase national cultural awareness and involvement. Another achievement in this period was to transform the Antiquities Division of the Ministry of Education into a national authority. Shalev has also played a key role in enhancing educational opportunities in regional areas by promoting the accreditation of local educational institutions and enabling their students to obtain certified degrees.
Shalev studied modern history of the Middle East and geography and graduated from the IDF Command and Staff College and National Security College. Among his publications are To Bear Witness - Holocaust Remembrance at Yad Vashem (2005) and We Are Here – Holocaust Survivors in Israel (2008).