Yad Vashem: Tears of Rememberance
As we approached the Israeli holocaust museum, it was raining or as our guide Shimon put it, the clouds were crying tears.
An interesting note upon entry into the museum: The invitation to membership translated as “Join Now” didn’t at all equate to the Hebrew, which translated literally as “Partners in Remembering.”
Anything to do with the Holocaust always leaves me with a feeling of numb helplessness. This was no exception. But the big difference in Yad Vashem is the emphasis on the individual -- trying to depict real people who had normal lives before being sucked into this world gone wrong. The photos, letters, memorabilia, and personal statements leave a lasting impression with a greater emphasis on their lives than on their deaths.
I was particularly taken by the role of music. Many Jews going to the ghetto chose to take a violin, a viola, a cello, a clarinet. A quote said, “One’s desire for music grows when one is most miserable.” I asked myself if I could possibly have played or sung in the face of such adversity.
The Children’s Memorial, designed by Moshe Safdie, leaves a lasting impression. You walk slowly through a space completely darkened, except for pinpoints of light (sort of like stars), which represent the children who perished. A somber voice reads the name, age at death, and country of origin for each child, requiring 24 hours to complete the entire list. It was a feeling of being enveloped by life and death at the same time.
Yad Vashem makes a point of recognizing the righteous gentiles, defined as persons who were not Jewish, who befriended Jews at great personal risk, and who were not in any way remunerated for doing so. There is tree planted for each such person.
When we emerged, the rain had subsided but our hearts were filled with tears for the unnecessary deaths of so many people who had beautiful faces and promising lives that were extinguished forever.