Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Holocaust Museum

Today I visited Yad Vashem the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. Pictures were not allowed inside of the museum. "Museum" is probably not the best term to use. I don't know what the right word would be? Possibly "memorial" is more appropriate.

Our tour guide Jacob started us off by saying that he was not able to lead us through the museum because it is still very hard for him. He described himself as remnant of a generation "that grandparents were a fairy tale--something we heard of, but didn't experience because ours were destroyed." Heart wrenching to hear this jovial man share this painful reality of his life. He did a great job in preparing us for what we were about to see. The holocaust story is horrific. The images, the testimony of what I saw today was sickening. It is scary to ponder the evil humans are capable of.

There is one section of the museum of the museum I was looking forward to seeing: "The Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations." I really wanted to see the Corrie Ten Boom tree because Anna really loves her story. Well, I got more than I bargained for at this stop. You see Jacob spoke to us here before we entered the museum on our own. He spoke very passionately about these 22,000 souls who risked their lives for the defense of the Jewish people. The consequence of their risk would be death if discovered by the Germans.

But you see, Jacob was not honoring these people...he was horrified that of all of Europe, only 22,000 people can be identified in standing up. We cannot know how we would respond in this situation unless we are in it. I walked the garden reading the names, pondering their story, and thankful for people who are willing to stand for the right, even at their own detriment. There was a quote that I saw, "I would rather stand against man and be right with God than stand with men and go against God." I think this says it well.

The picture to the left is one side of The Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations. As I walked this path reading the names of these people who risked all in order to protect those who were facing a horrible atrocity, I couldn't help but wonder what I would do given their situation and were we as a people facing anything similar. Are we? Some things did come to mind, but I am not sure that I have processed them completely. If you make it to Israel, you should visit Yad Vashem for sure. It is powerful. There is one thing that is certain--the State of Israel and the Israeli people clearly have God's hand upon them by their sheer existence.

The Psalmist prayed this prayer that I imagine many of them prayed in the midst of the Holocaust and many are praying today: "Redeem Israel, O God, from all their troubles!" (Psalm 25:22).

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