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Farewell to Dr. Susanna Kokkonen

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Posted on: 
14 Jan 2019 (All day)
Farewell to Dr. Susanna Kokkonen

Recently, Dr. Susanna Kokkonen decided to end her time as Director of Christian Friends of Yad Vashem, which operates in partnership with the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. She held the position for ten years, and her daily work and impact at Yad Vashem will be greatly missed. Ms. Sari Granitza, a long-time deputy with the International Relations Division at Yad Vashem, will assume her role.

“For the past decade, Dr. Susanna Kokkonen has provided outstanding leadership to one of the most vital and sensitive aspects of our ministry by overseeing the Christian Desk which we helped establish at Yad Vashem”, said ICEJ President Dr. Juergen Buehler. “Dr. Kokkonen put her academic skills as a Holocaust scholar to full use in such initiatives as the annual Christian Leadership Seminars. She also brought a unique spiritual touch to Holocaust remembrance and education, even by creating a place of prayer in her special corner of this revered institution. Most of all, Susanna was a ‘light’ amid the painful, dark memories housed at Yad Vashem. She knew her Bible well and had a distinct way of relating its eternal truths to the universal lessons which Yad Vashem teaches on Antisemitism, racism and genocide.”

Originally from Finland, Dr. Kokkonen received her Ph.D. in Holocaust Studies in 2004 from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where her dissertation focused on Jewish Refugees in Post-War Italy, 1945-1951. She later worked as a pro-Israel Christian lobbyist at the European Parliament in Brussels and as cultural attaché at the Embassy of Finland in Tel Aviv.

In 2008, Dr. Kokkonen was tapped to serve as Director of Christian Friends of Yad Vashem, which was still relatively new. Over the ensuing years, she solidified the work of the Christian Desk as an important facet of the Yad Vashem campus, and expanded its reach to Christian communities on all continents. She hosted scores of Christian dignitaries, addressed hundreds of Christian tours groups, and organised numerous Christian Leadership Seminars that drew participants from over 50 countries. Dr. Kokkonen also successfully launched the CFYV’s Prayer and Study Tour, reliving history in Israel from the times of the Bible until today. In addition, she became known for having a special rapport with Holocaust survivors and turned much-needed attention on the needs of elderly, forgotten Righteous Gentiles in Israel.

Fluent in six languages, Dr. Kokkonen will continue to make appearances for Yad Vashem while also travelling around the world to speak to Christian, Jewish and civic audiences about the Holocaust, genocide, Antisemitism and Israel today, as well as to engage in humanitarian work. To keep up with her activities, please visit: http://susannakokkonen.com/