This morning as I listen to the news….I am upset at the six straight days of anti-Semitic attacks in New York. What is going on? Even one day is too much….evil is evil. This morning a man with a machete entered a Rabbi’s dwelling….intent to kill.
I am not Jewish but we are all one….
How can anyone not identify with the pain and suffering that those of the Jewish faith continue to endure? This is a country based on freedom of religion but we seem to have taken a wrong turn and we must self-correct. No I won’t turn this into a political post….and I won’t continue to preach. I will simply remind you that we’ve been down this road and point you towards the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem which we visited less than 2 years ago and share some heartfelt moments.
History is there so we don’t repeat it
I had previously been to the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC so that I thought I knew what to expect. Even so – walking through Yad Vashem affected both John and myself strongly.
Yad Vashem is Hebrew and I’m told the words literally mean “a monument and a name.” It’s both a memorial and a research center on the study of the Holocaust and more generically – genocide. It’s a monument to Jews lost, those that survived it all, and Gentiles that tried to help. It’s a national depository of names of victims so that their names will never be forgotten.
A Chronological perspective
As I remember it, you first experience the small things that happened in German society…via the headlines…that either no one noticed or they didn’t know how to stop. While I won’t go through all the details….they were items similar today. In fact, it was almost like reading today’s headlines…..fake news, government infighting, changes in law to allow one party to have more power…..a leader (Hitler) whose rhetoric people tolerated or were powerless to stop! Some even joined up….out of fear or the need to feel powerful….against what?
Then you walked through areas where stories are told from an every day perspective…of individuals who were restricted to only certain parts of the city, had to were identifying marks or carry papers, and were often taken in the middle of the night. You saw their homes, heard them talk about life in videos, and saw family portraits. And then you saw how one by one their liberties became restricted or non-existent.
As we walked through Yad Vashem…..we also began to notice those walking beside us. Most were quiet, sometimes you heard whispers or a nervous laugh – often a reaction when not really knowing how to react. There were two groups I noticed in particular…..one was a group of nuns and the other a group of newly recruited soldiers. They were both equally affected by what they saw….
The Sisters walked quietly through, often looking down, sometimes crossing themselves and likely giving a prayer for those gone by and against evil making its presence known again.
The soldiers were particularly of interest and I managed to take one photo as they sat overlooking an exhibit of discarded shoes from those persecuted. In Israel, all must serve, and its done at an early age. They were obviously fresh out of high school and their Commander was making sure that they remembered “why they were here.” Their reactions: some overly somber for their age, some not looking their Commander in the eye, and some trying to joke rather than face it all. For a soldier in a small country that faces constant conflict with their neighbor’s, this is reality and war or civil unrest something they would soon face.
The Records are there…
And the major impact for me – was the room with all the photos and records. The photo I took is only a small portion of the people that were forced to give their lives out of the ignorance and hatred of others. Their loss must serve as a reminder to us all – to never let this happen again.
Please do your part – what ever it is!! Those who hate out of ignorance can be educated. Those who hate out of fear….need to taught that we are all God’s people and that he loves us all equally. Please open your eyes, remain vigilant and seek “Peace on earth!”