by Beth Milliner
The morning brought with it a visit to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. You first enter the museum, a modest concrete triangular building with no windows to give the sense of entering a tomb. The interior is quite dark with only a strip of skylight running down the center of the building. You are first greeted by a video art display running across a giant wall, depicting Jewish life before the Holocaust. Children singing, bustling Jewish life, and so on. Being reminded of communities and life before the lowest point in human history was a focus and constant reminder throughout our journey through the museum. The angled walls gave the sense of the walls closing in on you as you crisscrossed your way through the museum. Our guides focused on key stories from gay and lesbian Jews that suffered from the horrors.
One of the most emotional and moving moments was entering the last room where they continue efforts on recovering all 6,000,000,000 names of those lost. There are empty shelves that will most likely never be filled and pictures of 600 Jews hang above you, who do not have a name.
At the end of the day our group made our way to an Ethiopian immigrant absorption center by Zefat. It was such a juxtaposition to the reflective sadness of the morning to end sitting with 6-8 year old children full of life and wonder. It was wonderful to hear about the Jewish Federation's role in helping to support all the various programs our extended group attended. Efforts are still underway to bring persecuted populations of Ethiopian Jews into the sanctity of Israel; reassurance that never again will the plight of any Jew be ignored.
"Thou shall not be a victim, though shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander." Yehuda Bauer