Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Israel Trip Part 3

Part 1 Part 2

So this post will be a little more serious than other posts, for reasons that will become clear fairly quickly.

On Monday we began by visiting Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust museum. For me this experience was amazing. I'd studied the Holocaust before, and visited the D.C. museum, but Yad Vashem was something completely different. For one, the museum is very focused on telling the stories of the individuals involved. If you've ever heard the expression "One death is a tragedy, 1000 is a statistic," that seems to sum up the philosophy there. They don't want the horrors that occurs to be brushed aside. They make it about the people. One of the things that struck me most was their dedication to trying to identify all the Jews who died in the Holocaust. If a person died, and all who knew him are also dead, can we say he ever existed? Yad Vashem seeks to remind us that we need to remember all the people who existed here, and who died.

The other thing that made this visit feel more special to me is that for the first time since seventh grade Sunday school, I was hearing about the Holocaust, and learning about the people, completely surrounded by other Jews. When I visited the Holocaust museum in D.C. many of my classmates were sympathetic, but it just wasn't as personal for most of them. I had moments when it became very personal for me, and it felt nice to know that everyone I was with got that. Everyone was having there own moment at some point. I'm not trying to say that non-Jews can't fully comprehend the Holocaust, obviously they can, but for the most part, the person who starts sobbing in a Holocaust museum is going to be Jewish.

We were only allowed to take pictures on the museum grounds, not in the museum. I only took a few pictures, and I don't feel comfortable posting most of them. But there is one I will show. The view from the museum overlooks the city. I think it was a beautiful reminder that out of something terrible (the Holocaust) can come something good (the state of Israel).
After the museum we took an emotional breather and went to a local market place for lunch.
I love pomegranates.

This smelled amazing. All the spices mingled together.

Then we went back to having an emotional day. Our next stop was Mt. Hertzl, the national cemetery. At the cemetery, the communal feeling of getting it, wasn't as strong. The Israeli soldiers who were with us very clearly had a more powerful reaction to what we were seeing. At the same time, moments popped at me. When I saw the grave of a soldier who was my age or younger when he or she died the realities of being an Israeli became even more strong.

Once again, out of respect for where we were, I will include just the one picture.
It says "Hertzl" in Hebrew.
Monday night ended with a trip to Ben Yehuda Street. Many people in the group went to bars and clubs. I, with a friend I'd made on the trip, simply wandered, looking in at the little shops.

Part 4 is now up!

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