Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Musings After a Visit to Yad Vashem

I haven't been to the Yad Vashem (Holocaust memorial) museum in Jerusalem since I went as a soldier in February 2004.

I tend to stay away from Holocaust films, unless they're movies with plots like those of Defiance or Escape from Sobibor.

I don't know if my attitude is that of the minority or majority of Jewry today.

I know what happened during the Holocaust - and have been haunted by it since I stepped foot in Dachau as a 10 year old. I still will read books about survivors, or when possible, listen to them speak in person

... But I'm tired. I'm tired of the pain and anger I feel when I 'see' that reality. A reality where the world turned its back on the Jews - be it the Yanks, the Brits, the Catholic Church, or humanity bar the 'The Righteous Among The Nations' - and left us at the mercy of the Nazi war machine. The reality I live in is so different obviously - and that's why I struggle with that reality so much.

Which brings me to today. I went with my wife, parents and nonna (Italian for grandmother) to Yad Vashem. It was extremely difficult - as always. I gritted my teeth and held back tears most of the time. My people. My nation. My brothers. My sisters. Annihilated for being Jews. Tertiated.

I burst out in tears in one of the last exhibits - that displaying the many stories of the aforementioned 'Righteous Among The Nations' (for these stories - see here) - when I read the following quote (paraphrased as I didn't write it down), "I know that when I stand in front of God I won't be asked like Cain why I remained silent when my brother's blood was screaming from the ground." In one of the darkest periods in human history, there were flashes of light. Light that saved thousands of human beings who's only crime was being Jewish.

After leaving Yad Vashem with the expected mixed emotions of sadness and anger, I thought to myself how lucky we are to have Israel. We can rely on ourselves ... not on the hope that other nations will protect us.

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