Dear families and blog followers:
Two of our students were so eager to get their ideas down about the visit to Yad Vashem, so you are getting a bonus blog. We are heading down to Kabbalat Shabbat momentarily. Shabbat Shalom!
This morning, after Tefilah, we went to Yad Vashem: The Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. When we arrived, we were introduced to our tour guide, Tamara. She brought us to the Garden of the Rightous Gentiles, where many trees were planted in honor of the amazing gentiles who risked their lives to save Jews they had never met before. When we got to the first trees, Elana and Ally realized that they were doing a paper on the people who Tamara was talking about! (At the very end of our time, we all shared our information about a Righteous Among the Nations.) After that, we went inside the building. She explained that the building was a drab grey color, because it is meant to signify the sadness of the Holocaust. She also mentioned the shape of the building; It was a triangle, which could be interpreted in many different ways, including being half of the Magen-David, coming from the fact that so many Jews were killed that could have made many future generations. We noticed when we got inside, that the building was sloped down and the walls got narrower. Tamara said that this was to show that the Holocaust got worse and worse, but still kept the hope above their heads like shown with the skylight. The building was also underground, so when we went uphill at the end of the museum, we were on a hill looking over Jerusalem. The view was incredible! The actual museum started us out with a video of many kids singing HaTikvah. However, the lyrics were different, because they were talking about going to a land of our forefathers, whereas we are already in it. As we were farther immersed in the story, we discovered how Hitler came to power, and we knew so much already from our class with Rabbi Amanda! Tamara was so impressed with how knowledgeable we were. After that, we started the actual part of the “Final Solution”. We found out that Hitler actually wasn’t a part of this idea! It was made in a meeting that was about an hour and a half long with people who were in control of different parts of the Government. We were then taught about how terrible the concentration and death camps were. It was awful to see how badly our ancestors were treated. We heard many stories of exceptional individuals. It was amazing to see people in the Warsaw Ghetto fighting back to the Nazis. After the worst part of the Holocaust, we were shown that liberation was not as amazing as it seemed it would be. Many people died trying to digest the food, and almost all had lost their families. They had no places to go, and many countries weren’t allowing them to immigrate. Ships were even sent back to Europe! Even after the war and liberation, many died and added to this horrifying number: 6 million Jews. However when we came out of the museum and we saw the amazing city of Jerusalem, it reminded us that there is still hope and that after thousands of years and people trying to exterminate us, we’re still here.
After the moving experience that was the actual museum, and overlooking the city, we took a refreshing amble outside, witnessing all the memorials donated, generally, by Holocaust survivors. There were a multitude of tributes to all those who lost, or risked, their lives in the horrible carnage that was WWII: the Righteous Gentiles, specific individuals, and most notably, the children. The children’s commemorative was an indoor memorial. It began with a smiling child, one who had perished in the Holocaust. The child looked happy, but there was something off to it. It took us a while, but we finally realized that the child’s eyes were absent. The child was joyful, but lifeless. When we walked in we were overcome with darkness, save for a few candles hanging from the ceiling. Melodramatic music played as we entered the main chamber, where the candles multiplied creating what seemed like millions of them. As we walked past, a monotone voice stated random names of children who had passed during WWII. We soon recognized the illusion, and that there were only five candles and a lot of mirrors. Once we came out, our tour guide Tamara asked us how many candles we saw reflected off the mirrors. Some answered 1.5 million, for all the children that died. Others said 6 million. Tamara suggested an infinite amount, for although 6 million Jews died, we really lost an endless amount, because those Jews could have children, and then they could have children, etc… It really left us thinking about how much those 6 million really meant.
Skylar, Elijah F., Marcy, Amalya and Eighth Graders