Feature: 1st Metaverse Holocaust memorial museum launched as Israel marks Memorial Day

by Keren Setton

JERUSALEM, April 26 (Xinhua) — In her tiny apartment in the central Israeli city of Ramla, 95-year-old Olga Vasilev sifted through many photos and memorabilia of her childhood. Being a Holocaust survivor, she was in tears as the memories came back to her.

Vasilev managed to escape from the Holocaust as the family’s sole survivor after she was taken to a distant relative in Minsk, Belarus, where she worked in a weapons factory. She proudly put on her old coat, adorned with the medals awarded for her hard work.

“We were bombed by black planes with white wheels, and we just ran away and hid all the time,” she told Xinhua. “We would travel in open areas and fields. The Nazis would bomb us from the air, and we would run and hide all the time.”

Soon, more people can read the stories told by the Holocaust survivors such as Vasilev, by surfing online to visit the first Holocaust museum of the Metaverse just launched by the Chasdei Naomi foundation.

Vasilev has already been featured as a super heroine in the foundation’s website. Her story illustrates not only the ordeals of surviving the war, but also the difficulties faced by the survivors.

Sitting next to Vasilev was 24-year-old Sharon Yaglian, a volunteer with the Chasdei Naomi foundation who visits Holocaust survivors frequently. Yaglian cried as Vasilev told the story of how she and others had to eat stolen cow feed in order to survive.

“I heard my grandmother’s story directly from herself, but when I become a grandmother, there will be no survivors alive to tell the story,” said Yaglian, the granddaughter of another Holocaust survivor.

About 6 million Jews were massacred during the World War II in the Nazi Holocaust. According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, there are currently 165,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel.

Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Day, which is marked across the country every year as a national holiday and day of remembrance, will run from sunset on Wednesday to sunset on Thursday this year according to the Jewish calendar.

As the generation of Holocaust survivors has aged and their population shrinks, it is increasingly imperative that their memories are not only recorded but also made accessible to the younger generation in an interesting way.

Therefore, the Chasdei Naomi foundation, which helps 10,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel, decided to take part in the commemoration efforts.

“There is no choice but to connect the memory of the Holocaust to the technological world if we want the memory to remain for years ahead,” said Tamir Hass, the CEO of the Tamir Hass Public Relations and one of the founders of the non-fungible tokens (NFT) Holocaust Museum.

With the Memorial Day approaching, the Chasdei Naomi foundation launched the first Holocaust museum of the Metaverse that will display the art works in NFT. The art works are based on the stories that the volunteers heard from the survivors who they helped throughout the years.

The museum and the online exhibits are accessible via the Chasdei Naomi website. Proceeds from the sales will go to the needy Holocaust survivors.

“This is something people need to hear, it is not something you can just pass over and skip as if nothing had happened,” said Yaglian. “This can never happen again, there can be no more stories like Olga’s again.”

To increase the number of memory-based NFT art works, the Chasdei Naomi foundation is looking for more Holocaust survivors. As part of the campaign to attract people to view the online exhibition, Olga Vasilev’s face is featured in central Tel Aviv on a massive screen.

In addition, to make the stories of Holocaust survivors heard by more people, especially those who do not speak Hebrew, interpreters helped to translate the survivors’ stories.

“This is the greatest and smartest step to commemorate the Holocaust for the younger generation which has already immersed in the technological world,” said Yaglian.

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