Mount of Olives panorama

Mount of Olives panorama
A panoramic view of the Mount of Olives

Monday, June 4, 2012

Yad VaShem and Mount Herzel

Yad VaShem, literally "a hand [sc. memorial] and a name," takes its title from a verse in Isaiah 56:5.
As with Fall and then Winter semesters, today we took out students to Yad VaShem, the official Israeli Holocaust Memorial and Museum.  This is always a sobering visit, one that has not gotten easier with repetition.

As one enters (or leaves) Yad VaShem, one walks along the Avenue of the Righteous, where carob trees have been planted in honor of "Righteous Gentiles" who risked their lives to save Jews from death.  According to the Talmud's parable of Honi and the Carob Tree, the 70-year maturation period of the carob tree makes it a symbol of altruism, because whoever plants it never lives long enough to benefit from its fruit.

Carob trees along the Avenue of the Righteous
The "Pillar of Heroism" stands on the highest point of Yad VaShem and looks disturbingly like one of the smokestacks of a Nazi death camp creamatorium

Ophir lecturing to our students in the Warsaw Ghetto Square before the Wall of Remembrance

One of the most poignant sites at Yad VaShemn is the children's Memorial

Echoing the promise to Abraham that his descendants would be like the stars of the sky, the interior of the Children's Memorial uses candles and mirrors to remember one and a half million lost lights.
A cutting from a maple tree from Theresienstadt that Irma Lauscher had planted their as part of her effort to continue Jewish education of children while even in a concentration camp.

In the Hall of Remembrance is an eternal flame and the names of 22 Nazi death camps.  It serves as a mausoleum for the millions who received no graves.
Pictures in the cavernous Hall of Names

Binder after binder of names seek to preserve the memory of the dead

Mount Herzl

After our sobering visit to Yad VaShem, Ophir led us on a tour of Mout Herzl, which serves as the Israeli National Cemetery and the focus of many of its Independence Day celebrations.  In its center is the grave of Theodor Herzl, the official leader of the Zionist Movement that antedated the creation of the State of ISrael.We sat under cedars planted by past visiting dignitaries of other countries as Ophir lectured to us and saw the grave of Yitzakh Rabin as we exited through the military cemetery. 

Herzl's grave

Cedar trees on Mt Herzl

The grave markers of Leah and Yitzakh Rabin. Prime Minister Rabin was assassinated by an extremist Israeli nationalist for his efforts at making peace with the Palestinians

No comments:

Post a Comment