The Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA) is deeply saddened to
hear of the passing of Zvi Bernhardt, Deputy Director of the Hall of
Names at Yad Vashem.
Our organization, as well as many of the individuals that make up our
leadership and members, worked closely with Zvi on a multitude of
projects over his years working at Yad Vashem, from the earliest days
of our organization (and earlier) to as recently as this week. We will
miss him, as both a colleague and as a friend.
It is hard to express the shock we feel at this loss. An empty void is
left behind in the worlds of Holocaust research and Jewish genealogy,
two areas that he worked in and tried to integrate.
To his colleagues at Yad Vashem, and in the many organizations that
worked with him, we share in your sorrow.
To his family, we offer our deepest condolences. May God comfort you
among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
זכר צדיק לברכה
With a heavy heart,
I was shocked and saddened this morning to learn of Zvi Bernhardt’s sudden death. I have many pleasant memories of Zvi during my time at JewishGen when we worked together on projects that benefitted both Yad Vashem and JewishGen.
First of all, I recall Zvi as a man of humility, integrity, and menschlikkeit, an honorable and selfless man whose word was his bond, who never sought glory for himself, whose primary goal was to rescue the names and lives of Jews lost to the Holocaust.
It may not be widely known how important Zvi was to the development of JewishGen’s Yizkor Book Project and the Holocaust Database. I recall one morning in 2000 about 7 am my phone rang and it was Zvi calling from Jerusalem with a stunning proposal of cooperation. He proposed that JewishGen’s large cadre of volunteers be enlisted to transliterate Yad Vashem’s large number of datafiles, which then would be included in JewishGen’s Holocaust Database as well as Yad Vashem’s database of names. I was so excited that I could barely contain myself. I immediately called Susan King, who was as elated as I was and we agreed that we would move forward expeditiously. As Zvi wanted to side step bureaucratic delays of Yad Vashem’s legal department, we agreed that JewishGen would draft a memorandum of agreement between our two organizations. We did and the data sharing arrangement was announced at the 2000 IAJGS
This initial arrangement between Yad Vashem and JewishGen led to many other fruitful initiatives, including Yad Vashem’s donation to us of the transliteration of many necrologies in yizkor books as well as considerable assistance with the Pinkasim HaKehillot and many other projects too numerous to list. Especially noteworthy is Yad Vashem’s help with the Pinkas HaNitzolim in the Holocaust Database. The introductions to both volumes l and ll describe Zvi’s assistance with this massive project, which would never have been done without him.
This symbiotic arrangement was the precursor for similar arrangements with other institutions. This arrangement would not have been possible without Zvi Bernhardt, representing Yad Vashem.
My thoughts and prayers are extended to Zvi’s family and to Yad Vashem.