Visiting Yad Vashem

We were greeted by a bright and glorious morning. It was a warm Jerusalem day with no wind and our weary travelers caught a break since today would have much less walking than yesterday.

To the bus we went for a short ride to our first destination: Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. Unless you have been there, it is impossible to understand the impact of this place. Everything, including the architecture, has special meaning and every aspect of the property was well thought out.

Yad Vashem is actually a campus, not just a museum. On the campus is the main museum, the Hall of Remembrance (where dignitaries lay wreaths), a children’s memorial, several outdoor exhibits and monuments, many tree-lined walks in recognition of the righteous who risked their own lives to save Jews, an education center, and a warehouse of artifacts.

The main museum is gut-wrenching, though they did a fantastic job of ending on a high note. Unfortunately, no photos are allowed inside the main museum, but I’ll do my best to describe it briefly.

Visitors criss-cross a long, triangular building with a downward slopinh floor that narrows as the darkness of the Holocaust grows more intense. At the entrance, children’s voices singing HaTikvah (“The Hope,” now the national anthem of Israel) are heard and the song captures the joy of Jewish life in Europe. However, the further you progress down the slope, the fainter the song of joy becomes, and Anti-semitism raises its ugly head.

Soon, Anti-semitism turns to all out hate and destruction. Artifacts, such as belongings, clothing, railcars, photos, and hundreds of other evidences of hatred and murder are seen throughout the museum. Our private guide walked us through the atrocities that occurred and showed us models of the death camps and killing fields so prevalent in Poland and other places.

One is terribly hard-pressed to make it through the main museum without tears, and if so, the children’s memorial takes another swipe at emotions. Likewise, the Hall of Remembrance is a very sobering place, often visited by dignitaries.

As emotionally draining as it is, it is important not to leave people crushed by the weight of what they just experienced. Therefore, as the Jewish people do so well, joy comes from tragedy in the last station of the museum. Light begins to shine and the exit doors open to the wide open view of a vibrant and prosperous nation.

From the ashes of the Holocaust, God has restored the people and the land, just as Ezekiel 36-37 prophesy.

Words do it no justice. This is a site that every person who carries a love for Israel simply must see.

Stay tuned…there is more to come.

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