Chairman Presents Albanian Prime Minister with Cultural Pluralism Award


On March 6, 2018, Chairman Paul Packer presented the Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, with the Cultural Pluralism Award for his dedication to Holocaust remembrance.  Chairman Packer said, “We are delighted to award the Cultural Pluralism Award to Prime Minister Edi Rama for Albania’s outstanding contribution in the areas of Holocaust remembrance, ensuring historical truth and preserving sites relating to the heritage of American citizens. Prime Minister Rama, alongside his government, has built on Albania’s legacy during the Holocaust of safeguarding its citizens, and has worked ceaselessly to preserve the memory of the Holocaust.”

Chairman Signs Agreement with Ministry of Diaspora Affairs

Left to right:  Chairman Paul Packer, US Ambassador David Friedman, Diaspora Affairs Ministry director-general Dvir Kahana


Chairman Paul Packer signed a joint declaration of cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs on February 26, 2018, reflecting the joint efforts of the USA and Israel to preserve Jewish heritage sites in Europe.  Of the new agreement Chairman Packer said, “the new partnership with the ministry will allow the United States and Israel to strengthen their citizens’ heritages- to not only remember and commemorate the past but to make sure the values that our nations were built on will never be forgotten.” 


For more information, visit:  Israel National NewsTimes of IsraelJerusalem Post

Declaration of Cooperation Ministry Diaspora.pdf

Commission Meeting

On February 21, 2018, commission members attended a meeting in Washington, D.C.  Members discussed ongoing projects and progress made over the last year.  Chairman Paul Packer honored former chairs, Lesley Weiss and Warren Miller, with plaques for their outstanding service.  

Left to right:  Warren Miller, Chairman Paul Packer, Lesley Weiss 

Chairman meets with the Lithuanian Embassy

Chairman Paul Packer met with the Lithuanian Embassy in Israel to discuss the memorialization of Lithuanian Jewish heritage.


Chairman Honors Holocaust Survivor at the UN


The event held on January 31st recognized the youngest person saved by Oskar Schindler at the UN. From Left to right: H.E. Christoph Heusgen (Permanent Representative to the UN from Germany), H.E. Danny Dannon (Permanent Representative to the UN from Israel), Mrs. Eva Lavi, Commission Chairman Paul Packer)

For more on the event, click here and here.

Chairman, Second Lady, and U.S. Ambassador Honor Holocaust Remembrance Activists


From left to right: Paul Packer, former chief rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, US Second Lady Karen Pence, Alicia Yacoby and US Ambassador David Friedman. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Mrs. Pence, Commission Chairman Paul Packer, and U.S. Ambassador David Friedman recognizing Holocaust remembrance activists in conjunction with the Vice President's trip to Israel and in commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 28th.

Story here.

Commission Delegation Visits Belarus and Poland

A delegation of Commission Members visited Belarus and Poland September 10-17, 2017. The primary purposes were to: 

  • - review the progress of the survey of Jewish cemeteries in Belarus that is being conducted for the Commission; 
  • - follow up on the Commission-negotiated U.S. agreement with Belarus on the preservation of cultural heritage sites signed a year before, and 
  • - participate in the dedication of two memorials in Poland that the Commission helped finance. 


The delegation was led by then-Chair Lesley Weiss and included Commission Members Abba Cohen, Lesley Israel, Eric Schwerin, and Gary Zola.  Susan Sandler, Deputy Special Envoy in the Office of the Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues at the Department of State was also in the delegation.


Click here to read Chairwoman Weiss’ report on the trip.

Commission Chair Meets with Belarusian Officials

Then-Chair Lesley Weiss met at the Commission office with Republic of Belarus Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Oleg Kravchenko (third from left). Embassy Chargé d’affaires Pavel Shidlovsky (far left) and Pavel Lychkovsky, Head of the United States and Canada Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (far right).


They discussed the recent Commission trip to Minsk, the European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative survey, supported by the Commission, of Jewish cemeteries in Belarus, and other heritage issues.

Zalesie, Poland Mass Grave Memorial Dedicated

On September 15, 2017, a Commission delegation led by then-Chair Lesley Weiss that included Members Gary Zola, Eric Schwerin, Lesley Israel, and Abba Cohen participated in the dedication of a memorial to Jews murdered by Nazi troops in 1943 in a forest in Zalesie, Poland.


The mass grave was located by Zbigniew Nizinski of the Lasting Memory Foundation in Poland. The memorial was built for the Commission under the supervision of Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich with funds generated by Commission Member Harley Lippman.


Eleven murdered Jews, including three children, had escaped from the nearby Jewish ghetto in Ryki and hid in the forest. They were hunted down by the Nazis and murdered at the site. 




The other participants in the dedication were Catholic Bishop Mieczyslaw Cislo, local Catholic priests, school children, teachers, and other members of the community.   

Meeting with Poland's Culture Ministry

A delegation of Commission Members met with the second-highest official of Poland’s Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in Warsaw September 14, 2017. The Ministry is the Government of Poland’s agency responsible for implementing an agreement with the United States on the preservation of burial places, memorials, historic sites, and places of worship, with a focus on places related to victims of the Holocaust. The Commission is the lead U.S. Government agency on implementing the agreement.

Shown below from left are: the Deputy in the U.S. State Department’s Holocaust Office, Susan Sandler; Commission Member Gary Zola; Poland’s Culture and National Heritage Deputy Minister and State Secretary Jaroslaw Sellin; then-Commission Chair Lesley Weiss; and Commission Members Lesley Israel, Eric Schwerin, and Abba Cohen.

Kaluszyn, Poland Cemetery Memorial Dedicated

In the picture immediately below, then-Commission Chair Lesley Weiss speaks at a ceremony dedicating a new memorial at the site of the Jewish cemetery in Kaluszyn Poland on September 14, 2017. Before World War II, some 5,200 Jews lived in Kaluszyn, constituting 60% of the population. The Nazis murdered nearly all of them. The cemetery and its headstones were destroyed as well. With the help of Joseph Gellman, a descendent of Jews from Kaluszyn, the Commission financed the memorial, which was built by the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (FODZ). FODZ CEO Monika Krawczyk is in a light colored coat behind Mrs. Weiss. To Weiss’ left in front of the memorial are Ambassador of Israel Anna Azari, Kaluszyn Mayor Marian Boszynski, Catholic Priest Wladyslaw Szymanski, and Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich.

In the additional photograph, Commission Members stand with a memorial plaque that tells the story of the Jews of Kaluszyn. From left to right are Lesley Israel, Gary Zola, Weiss, and Eric Schwerin.

Delegation Meets with Ambassador to Poland

Five Commission Members met with the U.S. ambassador to Poland in the nation’s capital of Warsaw September 13, 2017. Many Americans trace their roots to Poland.


The delegation was in Poland for business that includes the dedications of a memorial at a mass Holocaust grave and a restored Jewish cemetery, both financed by the Commission with donations from U.S. citizens. Below from left to right are: Commission Member Abba Cohen;  Susan Sandler, Deputy to the State Department’s Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues; then-Commission Chair Lesley Weiss, Ambassador Paul Jones, and Commission Members Eric Schwerin, Lesley Israel, and Gary Zola.


Minsk Holocaust Mass Grave Visited

Members of a Commission delegation to Belarus visited the Yama Memorial in the nation’s capital of Minsk September 13, 2017. The memorial remembers over 5,000 Jews from the Jewish ghetto shot in the pit by Nazi troops. In the foreground from left are: Galina Levin, daughter of one of the two creators of the memorial; Commission Member Eric Schwerin; then-Commission Chair Lesley Weiss; Susan Sandler, Deputy Envoy in the State Department’s Office of Special Envoy on Holocaust Issues, and Commission Member Lesley Israel. Commission Member Abba Cohen can be seen in the rear just outside of the burial place.

Briefing on Jewish Cemeteries in Belarus

U.S. citizen concern about endangered Jewish cemeteries in Central and Eastern Europe led to a law that established the Commission and gave it assignments that include identifying cemeteries in the region. The Commission has contracted with the European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative (ESJF) to try to find and describe the conditions of all of the Jewish cemeteries in Belarus. Many American Jews have roots in what is now Belarus. 

A Commission delegation was in the country’s capital of Minsk September 12, 2017 and received a briefing on the survey and its findings from ESJF CEO Phillip Carmel. Shown below at the briefing from left to right are Commission Members Eric Schwerin and Lesley Israel, then-Commission Chair Lesley Weiss, Carmel, Union of Jewish Religious Communities of Belarus Chief Rabbi Mordechai Rachinstein, and Commission Member Abba Cohen. 

Commission and Belarus Jewish Leaders in Minsk

Members of a Commission delegation to Belarus are shown above with leaders of the country's Jewish community, Israel's ambassador to Belarus, the U.S. Charge d'affaires in Belarus Robert Riley, and Susan Sandler of the State Department's Office of Holocaust Issues on September 12th. The delegation led by then-Chair Lesley Weiss and including Commission Members Abba Cohen, Eric Schwerin, and Lesley Israel is in Belarus in connection with a survey of all Jewish cemeteries in the country currently being conducted for the Commission. A Commission-negotiated U.S. agreement with Belarus was signed a year ago on the protection of cemeteries, memorials, and other cultural heritage properties.

Ivenets, Belarus Jewish Cemetery Inspected


Then-Commission Chair Lesley Weiss and Member Eric Schwerin are shown looking at the remains of a tombstone at the Jewish cemetery in Ivenets, Belarus September 12, 2017. They and Commission Member Lesley Israel joined them in visiting the cemetery, one of the hundreds of Jewish cemeteries in Belarus being surveyed for the Commission by the European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative. Commission Member Abba Cohen also visited, observing the entire cemetery from its perimeter.

Chair Visits Synagogue and Officials in Slovenia

Then-Commission Chair Lesley Weiss visited the restored medieval synagogue in Maribor, Slovenia (above) August 29, 2017. She is shown below (center) inside the building with Program Coordinator Marjetka Bedrac and Curator Martin Bele of the Center for Jewish Cultural Heritage housed in the building. 

During her visit to Slovenia, then-Chair Weiss also met with State Secretary of Foreign Affairs Adrej Logar and U.S. Ambassador Brent R. Hartley in the nation’s capital of Ljubljana. 

Holocaust Memorial in Próchenki, Poland Dedicated

A memorial to Jews killed by Nazi German soldiers in Próchenki, Poland was dedicated July 25th.

The memorial was erected by the Jewish Community of Warsaw, Poland due to the efforts of Commission Member Harley Lippman.

Lippman is responsible for the Commission project that is erecting memorials at previously-unmarked Holocaust mass graves in Poland.

International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)

International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) held under the Swiss Chairmanship in Geneva June 26-29

More than 200 experts and policymakers gathered to discuss topics such as the protection and preservation of Holocaust-related sites throughout IHRA Member Countries as well as the sharing of good practices in the field of Holocaust education, research and remembrance.



Members of the U.S. Delegation to IHRA


Front (from left):

Robert Williams: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Lesley Weiss: Then-Chair, U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad

Desiree Baron: U.S. Embassy, Bern

Kim Simon: USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education

Tom Yazdergerdi: Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, U.S. Department of State-Head of Delegation

Mark Weitzman: Simon Wiesenthal Center

Jennifer Ciardelli: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Susan Sandler: Office of the Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, U.S. Department of State


Bill Shulman: Association of Holocaust Organizations

Chair & Ukraine’s Ambassador Discuss Heritage Site Issues

Then-Commission Chair Lesley Weiss (right), U.S. Special Envoy on Holocaust Issues Thomas Yazdgerdi (left), and Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Valeriy Chaly are shown below at the Embassy of Ukraine April 3rd where they discussed Ukrainian membership in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and other cultural heritage preservation issues.

New Members Sworn-in During Meeting
Then-Commission Chair Lesley Weiss (right) ceremonially administered the oath of office to new and reappointed Members at the Commission’s February 1, 2017 meeting. From right are new Members Marjorie Margolies, a former Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Lesley Israel and reappointed Members Joan Silber, Eric Schwerin, Herbert Block, and Gary Zola. Click Here to View Additional Photographs 

Holocaust Memorial in Wolska Dabrow, Poland Dedicated

A memorial to 180 people murdered because they were Jewish by Nazi Germans during the Holocaust in Wolska Dabrowa, Poland was dedicated November 24th. The memorial was funded by the Commission with monies generated by Member Harley Lippman and erected for the Commission under the supervision of Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich. The crowd at the dedication included 160 students from Israel as well as Polish students and local authorities and residents. The memorial is shown below along with pictures from the dedication ceremony. 

Kaplonosy, Poland Holocaust Memorial Dedicated

A memorial to 70 people who were murdered because they were Jewish by Nazi Germans in Kaplonosy, Poland was dedicated November 3rd, 2016. The memorial was funded by the Commission with monies generated by Member Harley Lippman and erected for the Commission under the supervision of the Chief Rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich. Below are pictures of the memorial and the dedication ceremony. Click Here to View Additional Photographs  

U.S. - Belarus Agree on Cultural Preservation

The governments of the United States and Belarus entered into an agreement on the preservation of cultural properties September 21, 2016 in New York City. The agreement commits the two governments to protect and preserve cemeteries, memorials, historic sites, places of worship, and related archives with a focus on groups that were victims of genocide during World War II. 

Belarus Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei and U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad's then-Chair Lesley Weiss signed the Agreement.

Below, is a photograph of the agreement being signed by Makei (left) and Weiss as the Charge d'Affaires of the Belarus Embassy in Washington, DC, Pavel Shidlovsky, and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Bridget Brink stand behind them. Click Here to View Additional Photographs and Additional Materials

Jewish Cemetery in Roshkoshne, Ukraine Preserved
On August 11, 2016, the Jewish cemetery in the village of Roskoshne in Stavische, Ukraine was rededicated after a Commission project erected a wall around it and cleaned up the burial ground. The project was funded due to the efforts of Commission Member Richard Weisberg. In the photograph immediately below, the village mayor reads the plaque on the wall as Weisberg stands to his right. Click Here to View Additional Photographs  


Bucharest Pogrom of 1941 Memorial Dedicated

Commission Member Herbert Block spoke on July 20, 2016 at the dedication of a memorial to the victims of a horrific rampage against Jewish residents of Bucharest, Romania January 21-23, 1941. The murder, torture, and other attacks against Jewish citizens already victims of persecution was perpetrated by Romania’s then Iron Guard during the Legionnaires Rebellion. The Federation of Jewish Communities of Romania (FEDROM) erected the memorial with funds generated by Commission Member Martin Gold and with the assistance of Bucharest’s Third District. Pictured immediately below from left to right are FEDROM President and Romanian Parliament Member Aurel Vainer, Commission Member Block, and Third District Mayor Robert Negoita. Click Here to View Additional Photographs 





Member Speaks at Latvia Holocaust Ceremony

 Commission Member Eric Schwerin spoke on July 4, 2016 in Riga, Latvia, at the dedication of a restored memorial to Jews murdered in the Holocaust. The memorial is located on the site of a synagogue destroyed 75 years before. During the Nazi occupation of Latvia, hundreds of synagogues were burned, and 70,000 Latvian Jews and other European Jews in the country were killed. Schwerin spoke along with Latvia’s president, parliament speaker, and the Israeli ambassador. The memorial was restored by the Council of Jewish Communities of Latvia, with funding from the Commission raised by Schwerin.  Click Here to View More Photographs

More Highlight News

Commission Chairwoman Lesley Weiss spoke at the dedication of a Holocaust memorial in Beregszasz/Berehovo, Ukraine on June 21, 2016 in honor of the memory of thousands of Jews murdered during the Holocaust from the town and from the Transcarpathian region. In the Spring of 1944, over 100,000 Jews were confined to ghettos and then deported to Auschwitz and other concentration camps. It is estimated that no more than 20 percent of the Transcarpathian Jews survived. The Shalom Foundation of Beregszasz-Berehovo erected a memorial wall with funds from the Hungarian government, individual donations, and monies raised by Chairwoman Weiss.  Same 4,000 names are inscribed on the memorial wall.  For more information on the dedication click here.

For more information on the dedication, including pictures, articles, and videos click here.

An international team of askanim has met with temporary success in delaying imminent construction on top of a historic beis hachaim in the Ukrainian town of Lviv (Lemberg). Now, efforts are underway to produce clear evidence of the site’s true boundaries to put a permanent stop to any further desecration of the many graves there.  Read More

Through the efforts of a team of askanim and U.S. officials, a construction plan that threatened a historic bees hachaim in Lviv, Ukraine, has been put on hold and possibly prevented altogether. Following a concerted effort, the town's mayor pledged to prevent building on any land deemed to be a cemetery.   Construction Plans Staved Off in Lviv Beis Hachaim (Hamodia article)

Maintenance work continues at the Batovo, Ukraine Jewish cemetery, which was initially restored in 2014. Chairwoman Lesley Weiss helped generate funds for its restoration and continued maintenance.

A strong sense of community permeated the Kennedy Caucus Room of the US Senate (May 18, 2015), as an array of prominent officials representing a cross section of House and Senate leadership joined with civic, religious, and communal leaders as they commemorated the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad.Read More

In September 2015, the Bialobrzegi cemetery in Poland was restored and a wall was erected around its perimeter with funds donated by Morris Goldfarb of NY, whose father was born in the town. The work was done by the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland in cooperation with the Commission.

America's Heritage Abroad

The establishment of the Commission recognized that the population of the United States is mostly comprised of immigrants and their descendants. Because it is, the United States has an interest in the preservation of sites in other countries. These sites are an important part of the cultural heritage of many Americans.