Welcome back friends! If you missed yesterday’s post, let me put things in context. I have gathered with about 200 fellow graduates of Christian Friends of Yad Vashem’s Leadership Conference held in Jerusalem. This reunion/refresher provides an opportunity to fellowship with classmates, and network with new people from other classes (between 2010-2017).
Yesterday’s sessions were amazing, but time and space do not allow me to give you all the details, so here are some highlights:
- Shaya Ben Yahuda led us through “Leaders and Leadership in Times of Crisis,” using heroic leaders from the Holocaust as examples. For example, Dr Janusz Korczak lived in Poland and wanted to help re-build Zion (Israel). However, he could not leave his family, including two orphanages full of children, to go to Israel. So, one of the orphanages became a Jewish children’s orphanage in the Krakow ghetto. He refused to leave “his” children when the Nazis came for them, so he went to the concentration camp with them, and later met his demise. A survivor later stated that his years in the orphanage were the best years of his life. Despite hardships in life, Dr Korczak showed real leadership by not abandoning his people. Rather, he motivated them to live life to the fullest, in spite of the circumstances.
- Stephanie Kaye, one of Yad Vashem’s most highly-esteemed educators, then shared about the art and artists of the Holocaust. It is well-documented that “life went on” in the ghettos and concentration camps that imprisoned Jews. When taken from their homes, and limited on what they were allowed to take, Jews had the foresight to think about what things would be helpful in continuing to live life. Many took art supplies, musical instruments, and even school supplies in order to make life as “ordinary” as possible in the most extraordinarily evil places humanly imaginable. Life went on, and many clung to the hope that brought. We were told that when a person is born and when they die is destiny…you have very little say in the matter. However, how you live in between makes all the difference. Many of those headed for gas chambers chose LIFE until their final breath. These were real people, with real faces, who lived to the end.
- Ephraim Kaye, Director of International Seminars, then shared the “back story” of bringing together an American Jewish fighter pilot with survivors from Auschwitz, following liberation. We then saw the newly-completed documentary about the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, in which that American Jewish fighter pilot was part of a ceremony in Poland where an Israeli F-15 fighter group “fly over” put the exclamation point on that victory. It was a moving story. (I’ll share the video link once I have it.)
Yesterday afternoon we were blessed to spend two hours on a “behind the scenes” tour of the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC. Scheduled to open later this year, the museum is one of the most high-tech in the world. Rather than describe the technology, I’ll let you see for yourself. Visit Museum of the Bible for a look at the God-honoring museum that stands only blocks from the Capital building.
As noted previously, Museum of the Bible co-sponsors these Yad Vashem conferences, and Cary Summers (President of Museum of the Bible) has been with us all weekend. (Word is that next year’s reunion will take place in the conference space at Museum of the Bible!) Mr Summers has one of the most incredible resumes on the planet when it comes to designing Bible-based museums and entertainment venues. If you are familiar with Answers in Genesis’ Creation Museum and Ark Encounter, you know of his design work! In fact, if you are familiar with Silver Dollar City, Bass Pro Shop, or Nazareth Village (in Israel), you have seen his work. Yesterday, Cary himself guided us through the Museum of the Bible! I encourage you to find out more about the museum, and make plans to visit. Believe it or not, admission to the museum will be a $15 “suggested donation!” (ie – anyone who cannot afford admission gets in anyway) How do you put a value on the Word of God!?!
On a personal, though very much related note, I finally connected with a young Jewish woman with whom I was introduce several months ago. Talya lives here in Washington DC and was gracious enough to meet me for lunch yesterday. It was a meeting of kindred hearts. Our time was limited, but we shared our appreciation of Jewish-Christian relations and the need to develop them further. It was a blessed time! Talya is VP of Development & Strategic Partnerships for Haym Salomon Center, a journalistic organization putting Jewish causes at the forefront of the news (where “traditional” news outlets won’t).
Finally, it is Shabbat, you know! We ended our evening last night with Shabbat dinner, including a conversation with Holocaust survivor, Luna Kaufman. Nothing better than 200 or so Israel-loving believers sharing a most precious celebration with our Jewish friends from Israel! Praise God for the opportunity!
Blessings to all…and Shabbat Shalom!