Monday, June 21, 2010

Yad Vashem

Our field trip this week was to the Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem. I have been to holocaust museums in the past, but this one especially touching because it was in the land of the people who suffered so greatly and run by those whose families had largely been killed. It is so easy for us back at home to forget about this tragic event, but for the Jews here in Jerusalem it is an integral part of their past and their identity.

These pieces of art represent the two different types of victims, those who had gone like a lamb to the slaughter (right) and those who had defiantly fought back (left)

Pictures from the courtyard of Yad Vashem. One of my favorite parts of this was that each individual tree planted outside the museum honors a specific individual or family who risked their own lives to save a life of a Jew, known as the "Righteous among the Nations".

Going through the museum itself was such a sobering experience. It is absolutely horrifying that people were treated so cruelly and inhumanely, just because of their background. The museum really made an effort to give a voice to and honor each of the individual victims, which made the whole experience much more personal. As I wandered around the exhibits, looking at countless pairs of shoes which no longer had owners, pictures of the young children who had been killed, and appalling images from the concentration camps, I was literally sick to my stomach. The theme of Yad Vashem was "The Holocaust was not the killing of the six million jews. Rather, the Holocaust was the killing of one Jew, and it happened six million times." and I could not help but ask myself, "What if I had been one on those six million?" and "What if it had been my family torn apart?".

The Hall of Names

I cannot imagine how horrible it would have been to go through something like that, and the fact that many people survived with their hope, spirit, and optimism intact is truly inspiring. Going through Yad Vashem definitely was not an easy experience, but it was an important one and I know that it changed me for the better.

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