Yad Vashem | Shorashim - Israel with Israelis
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Yad Vashem

By Marlee Goldstein

This morning we visited Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust museum located in Jerusalem. Last night's activity helped us to prepare for the visit by encouraging open conversation about personal reactions to the Holocaust. A number of index cards containing emotions were laid in a circle on the ground, and we were encouraged to walk around, pick an emotion that was most related to our feelings about the holocaust, and discuss our choice in small groups. By sharing personal stories and opinions, my group discussed the pain, confusion, anger, and hope associated with the Holocaust.  As we walked through the museum the following day, these feelings were only intensified and expanded. We started with the memorial for the 1.5 children murdered in the Holocaust, a man made cave that contains six candles surrounded by mirrors. The set up creates an infinite amount of flames that flicker as an overhead voice recites the names, ages, and hometowns of the murdered children. The effect is haunting.

The museum itself contains real artifacts from the war, including Nazi flags, Jewish star patches, and an actual road from the Warsaw ghetto. The shape of the museum is a long triangle with one window at the beginning and one at the end. As you walk through the rooms that are dark in both light and content, you are always able to see the light at the end. The exit is a panoramic view of the city of Jerusalem. For me, the contrast between the museum and the view was a strong symbol of the Jewish people's terrible past and hopeful future. In addition, it reinforced the idea that a Jewish homeland is absolutely necessary.

After five days in Israel, the visit to Yad Vashem was not an easy one, but the opportunity experience this in a tight knit group of both Americans and Israelis was so valuable. Luckily, we were able to end our day on a light note with a camel ride and a delicious meal at the Bedouin tents!

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