Sunday, July 1, 2007

Yad VeShem

People who live here usually go to Yad VeShem when people come to visit. You take them to do all the touristy stuff in Jerusalem. The old city, the Kotel, Machane Yehuda and the holocaust museum Yad VeShem. The holocaust is part of who we are and it colors the way we look at the world. We know that while Jewish souls were burning in Europe the seeds of yearning for our homeland were starting to blossom here. We also know that we cannot depend on the world to come to our rescue. I don't think the world as it were singles out the Jews. They don't care about genocide in Africa, or work/death camps in North Korea. After all, are we our brothers keeper?

When I go to Yad VeShem as I did this past week I am always reminded of an old woman I met who had 30 grandchildren! She likes to point to them with pride and say "that's revenge!" My children and I are the revenge for my grandparents. Revenge can leave you feeling empty. This is the best kind of revenge because it is full of life.

Walking through the museum I found myself drawn to the section dedicated to the resistance fighters. Those that survived gave their testimony. I stood in rapt attention as a woman told about the final meeting before the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Should they flee to the forest and fight with the resistance or should they stay and kill as many Nazi's as possible. Did I have that kind of courage in me? If I do it is buried deep inside of me.

At one of the stations there was a recording from Eichmann's trial. Someone was reading a letter from the Jewish resistance to the people of the Warsaw Ghetto. The letter tells the people what is really happening to the Jews that are being transported. He said not to believe the lies of the people who want to kill you. Do not believe their lies he pleads. What you must do is defend, defend, defend. Do not be afraid to defend yourself. As I heard these words I was no longer thinking of the Jews in the ghetto but of here and now. I thought of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and of a world that is not so crazy about us defending ourselves. His words may have not been meant for me but I will remember them as if he was speaking to the people of Israel in 2007.

Submitted by Carol