The Scroll of Fire Memorial in the Jerusalem Hills commemorates the history of the Jewish People from the Holocaust to rebirth.
Thanks to the support of friends of JNF KKL Germany, KKL-JNF is making the iconic Scroll of Fire Memorial, which was created by sculptor and Holocaust survivor Nathan Rapoport and is situated in Martyrs’ Forest in the Jerusalem Hills, accessible to visitors with physical limitations.
The Scroll of Fire Memorial, which stands among the Jerusalem Hills, commemorates the history of the Jewish People from the Holocaust to rebirth. It was erected by KKL-JNF almost fifty years ago, together with B'nai B'rith International. With the passing years the memorial has aged and now shows signs of wear. KKL-JNF is currently restoring it and, with the help of its Friends in Germany, is rendering the site accessible to people with physical limitations.
“It’s time to give the place a facelift,” explained KKL-JNF Central Region’s Deputy Director Yehiel Cohen. “We’re carrying out this work in order to preserve the special character of the site, using specially selected appropriate materials and ensuring that the result blends into the local topography.”
The plan includes expanding the entrance compound, upgrading the parking lot, constructing a path to the memorial that will be accessible to visitors with physical limitations, re-paving the memorial’s platform, renewing the wall around the platform, renovating the appreciation center, developing a seating area for groups, repairing the terraces, tending the existing greenery, and planting new vegetation.
Work began around two months ago with the renovation of the appreciation center. Shai Cohen, deputy director of KKL-JNF Central Region’s operations unit, explained that in order to avoid disruption of Holocaust Remembrance Day events, work around the memorial itself had stopped temporarily. Now it is progressing again, with completion expected in just a few weeks.
The Scroll of Fire Memorial stands in the heart of the Forest of Martyrs, whose six million trees commemorate the Jews who perished in the Holocaust. Planted in the 1950s by KKL-JNF and B'nai B'rith, it is one of Israel’s earliest memorials to victims of the Holocaust.
The Scroll of Fire Memorial, which was sculpted in bronze by Nathan Rapoport, himself a Holocaust survivor, towers to a height of eight meters. It consists of two huge scrolls - one depicting the Holocaust while the other depicts the national rebirth that followed. Among the historic events and figures portrayed are ghetto fighters, Janusz Korczak, Nazi soldiers, Jewish refugees immigrating to the Land of Israel, olive trees and the blowing of the shofar.
During the renovation, special emphasis is being placed on rendering the site accessible to people with disabilities. “Accessibility is important everywhere throughout the country, and, of course, it is also mandatory under Israeli law,” said Yehiel Cohen. “At a site like this, however, it is of especial importance. Large numbers of Holocaust survivors come here, and it is vital to ensure that they can reach the memorial comfortably and safely.”
Eighty-year-old Moshe Michel Werber of Tel Aviv visited the memorial on Holocaust Remembrance Day to tell his story to high school pupils and soldiers. During the war his father and mother hid him in the home of a Christian family in Belgium. Both his parents were active in the Belgian Committee for the Protection of Jews, and they risked their lives to save others.
“It’s very important to me to tell my story to young people, so that they know about our history,” he said. “It’s good that the memorial is being renovated, so that everyone can come here and visit.”
After speaking to us, Moshe Werber continued to make his way slowly along the dirt road towards the ceremony, leaning on his walking stick. Soon there will be a more convenient and accessible route here. Encounters between the young generation and the Holocaust survivors after the ceremony took place outdoors, with everyone sitting on the ground. The group seating areas planned for the site by KKL-JNF will provide an excellent solution for events of this kind.
The Scroll of Fire Memorial, and the woodland that surrounds it, attract large numbers of visitors throughout the year, including members of numerous groups: Holocaust survivors, March of the Living participants, schoolchildren, youth-movement members and IDF soldiers. On Holocaust Remembrance Day, the site assumes added importance as a national memorial, as KKL-JNF and B'nai B'rith hold their joint central memorial ceremony there to honor Jewish rescuers in the Holocaust.
Twenty-two-year-old Zeev Berman of Netanya had arrived to visit the Forest of the Martyrs and its memorial. “We purposely chose to come here on Holocaust Remembrance Day so as to get in touch with the meaning of this day,” he explained. “During the Holocaust Jews were marched to their deaths, while today we have the privilege of walking through the Land of Israel. It’s good that the site is being made disabled-accessible and undergoing renovation that will lend it added dignity and make it a place that everyone can visit.”