Yaffa Eliach, Historian Who Created Iconic ‘Faces’ of Holocaust, Dies at 79

(JTA) — Yaffa Eliach, a prominent historian of the Holocaust who opened the first center for Holocaust studies in the United States, has died.

Eliach, a Holocaust survivor, died Wednesday at 79, The Jewish Press reported.

In 1974, she opened the Center for Holocaust Studies in Brooklyn. It later merged with the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York.

Eliach created the “Tower of Life,” or “Tower of Faces” exhibit for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. The three-story exhibit features 1,500 photographs from Eishyshok, her Lithuanian birthplace near Vilna, showing life there before the war. Nearly all of the village’s 3,500 Jewish inhabitants were killed during World War II, according to The New York Times.

Eliach also published several books about the Holocaust.

Following the war, she fled to prestate Israel in 1946. Several family members had been killed in the war.

In 1954, she moved to the U.S. with her husband, David Eliach, and studied at Brooklyn College and the City College of New York. In 1969, she started working at Brooklyn College, teaching Jewish studies.

Author

Josefin Dolsten

Josefin Dolsten is a news fellow at the Forward. She writes about politics and culture, and edits the Sisterhood blog. She received an MA in Jewish Studies and Comparative Religion from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a BA in Government from Cornell University. Contact her at dolsten@forward.com and follow her on Twitter at @josefindolsten.

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Yaffa Eliach, Historian Who Created Iconic ‘Faces’ of Holocaust, Dies at 79

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