|The Yad Vashem building and grounds. Image found here.|
First I should talk about the architecture of the museum. You start off at the back of the museum (near the upper-right in the photo above); you're high up and it's well-lit. But as you travel through the museum, it becomes darker, and you're traveling downward, representing how things got worse over time. You zig-zig through the museum, back and forth across the main hallway, which mimics the confusion and chaos of the time during World War II. But as you get to the end of the museum, you are coming up and into the light again, and at the very end, the museum opens up to face the city of Jerusalem in Israel, a land created specifically for the Jewish people.
"And to them will I give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name (a "yad vashem")... that shall not be cut off." -Isaiah, chapter 56, verse 5
We were led on a guided tour, and any guide certainly affects your experience. Our guide was very focused on the history: the timeline of when things happened, where things happened on a map, the statistics and numbers of facts, etc. So we got a very analytical tour, rather than an emotional one. I thought for sure I would cry my way through the whole museum, but I didn't. I think I was overwhelmed for one (there was just so much to see, read, and learn that I didn't have a moment to just think about one thing), but we also skipped things that probably would have made me more upset; we skipped the videos in which Holocaust survivors tell their stories; those are the things that would have impacted me the most. So unfortunately we did not get to see everything in the museum, and the tour left something to be desired (well, if you wanted to cry...).
|Hall of Remembrance. Image found here.|
|The Children's Memorial. Image from Wikimedia Commons.|
Although I was not emotionally affected like I thought I would be, this was still a very somber experience, and we took some time after our visit to break into smaller groups and talk about our feelings, past experiences, etc. For example, I talked about how sometimes people say I'm not "really Jewish" because my mother isn't Jewish; I'm not particularly religious or closely connected to Judaism, but I do feel like a part of my identity is denied when people say that. One of our American guides said, "You would have been Jewish enough for Hitler." I think I'm going to use that response the next time someone tells me I'm not Jewish...
Afterward we went to another shopping mall for lunch. This was disappointing because I can visit a shopping mall in America whenever I want; I didn't travel halfway across the world to do that! But again, because of the heat, we needed a place that was indoors and air conditioned, so that's what we got.
|Surfing in the Mediterranean. Picture by Taylor Arion.|
|Israeli beer called "Gold Star" (quite an awkward name...). Picture by Jocelyn Rubin.|
We were delayed in getting back to the hotel because one of the girls from our group was missing. We spent at least 20 minutes on the street counting off and trying to figure out where everyone was. Later we learned that this girl had gone back to the hotel to hook up with a local Israeli she had met while surfing. So she delayed all of us from getting to bed because she was selfish and self-centered. Lovely.
But otherwise, an interesting, good day.