Monday, June 20, 2011

Yad Vashem

Once we got back to the hotel and had breakfast, we again boarded the bus for a trip to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial and Museum.

I took this picture as we were driving through the neighborhood of Rehavia. I just liked the way the roof was painted. I believe it was a coffee shop. I probably needed some good coffee! Ha!



There are Holocaust memorials and museum all over the world, some of them extremely moving, but none could ever be as poignant as Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial. Yad Vashem was opened in 1957, nine years after the establishment of the State of Israel and less than 15 years after the Holocaust, with the purpose of commemorating and researching the single largest act of genocide in human history.

Yad Vashem is located at the foot of Mt. Herzl (which bears immense symbolism in itself), and comprises several memorials, including the Hall of Remembrance and the Children’s Memorial; the Holocaust History Museum; the Museum of Holocaust Art; sculptures and installations; a massive archive; a research institute; and more.
Yad Vashem’s Holocaust History Museum was reopened in 2005 after extensive renovations that lasted several years. The striking new building now contains 10 exhibition halls, each of which focuses on a different chapter of the Holocaust. The exhibitions are ordered chronologically and tend to focus on individual stories as a means of evoking the stark historic reality of the tragedy.

A special section of Yad Vashem is devoted to the Righteous Among the Nations, those gentiles who often put their own lives on the line in order to rescue Jews from the jaws of death. Many of these people have been invited to Yad Vashem over the years in order to plant trees in the Garden of the Righteous, symbolizing the private lives and collective existence that they have helped to perpetuate.

Like the foreign dignitaries who come here, anyone visiting Israel must pass through Yad Vashem, if only to grasp the enormity of the miracle of the State of Israel, which emerged out of the ashes of Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, etc.


We were here as Shabbat was beginning, so we had about two and a half hours before it closed early. We ate in the museum cafeteria.




This sculpture is outside the Children’s Memorial. The posts are arranged in different heights to represent the ages of the children who were murdered.


A family built the memorial in memory of their son.



This is the entrance of the Children’s Memorial. It is incredibly moving. You descend underneath the arch below to a building hollowed out of a cavern. I am pasting the description directly from the web site.

This unique memorial, hollowed out from an underground cavern, is a tribute to the approximately 1.5 million Jewish children who perished during the Holocaust. Memorial candles, a customary Jewish tradition to remember the dead, are reflected infinitely in a dark and somber space, creating the impression of millions of stars shining in the firmament. The names of murdered children, their ages and countries of origin can be heard in the background.The children's names are taken from Pages of Testimony in the Hall of Names, Yad Vashem.

The Children's Memorial was designed by architect Moshe Safdie and built with the generous donation of Abe and Edita Spiegel, whose son Uziel was murdered in Auschwitz at the age of two and a half.

I believe that Kenny said that the spikes protruding out of the rock were like rebar in a concrete foundation and were to symbolize rebuilding.



We were certainly not allowed to take photos, but I found this one on the internet courtesy of Yad Vashem. It would be completely dark in the room except for the candle flames, and then the pictures would start flashing before you as the names were read.



You can see that we were in a somber mood.



This is the Pillar of Heroism commemorating the Jewish resistance. The inscription reads: "Now and forever in memory of those who rebelled in the camps and ghettos, fought in the woods, in the underground and with the Allied forces; braved their way to Eretz Israel; and died sanctifying the name of God" .


The young trees you see planted along the wall have been planted to commemorate the efforts of Gentiles to intervene in the persecution of the Jews. Each tree has a plaque in front of it on which the name of the Gentile is inscribed.



In 1961, Yad Vashem inaugurated the Hall of Remembrance, the first Holocaust commemoration site established at Yad Vashem on the Mount of Remembrance.

The Hall is an imposing structure, with walls made of basalt boulders brought from the area surrounding the Sea of Galilee, and an angular roof that gives it a tent-like shape. Engraved on the mosaic floor are the names of 22 of the most infamous Nazi murder sites, symbolic of the hundreds of extermination and concentration camps, transit camps and killing sites that existed throughout Europe.

The Eternal Flame, burning from a base fashioned like a broken bronze goblet, continuously illuminates the hall, its smoke exiting the building through an opening at the highest point of the ceiling. Before it stands a stone crypt containing the ashes of Holocaust victims, brought to Israel from the extermination camps.


Dignitaries who visit Israel for the first time always come to Yad Vashem to place a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance. In fact, anyone who visits Israel for the first time is highly encouraged to visit Yad Vashem. You can’t understand modern Israel unless you understand the Holocaust.


The pictures below are of a cast aluminum sculpture called, “From Holocaust to Rebirth.”






This is the Warsaw Ghetto Square.

“We have entered into a new life, and it is impossible to imagine the panic that has arisen in the Jewish Quarter. Suddenly we see ourselves penned in on all sides. We are segregated and separated from the world and the fullness thereof, driven out of the society of the human race.”  Chaim Aharon Kaplan, Scroll of Agony (1999)








The building in which the museum is located is a triangular shape and has a metal-looking roof. You look out a huge window shaped like a triangle and this is your view.



This is a picture of the building from their website.


Here is the plaque in front of Corrie Ten Boom’s tree. Corrie’s father, Casper, told the first Jew who asked for assylum in his home, "In this household, God's people are always welcome." This began the family’s “hiding place.” Eventually, the family was turned it to the Gestapo by a Dutch informant and were sent to a concentration camp. Casper died two weeks later. Elisabeth also died in a concentration camp. She said before dying, "There is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still." Corrie was released because of a clerical error one week before the other women in her group were killed. She said, "God does not have problems. Only plans."



This is an original German cattle car that was used to transport Jews to the concentration camps.


This is the monument to the 1.5 million Jewish Allied soldiers who fought against the Nazis in World War II.


But as for me, I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more. My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness and of Your salvation all day long;…For your righteousness reaches to the heavens, You who have done great things; O God, who is like You? You who have shown me many troubles and distresses will revive me again, and will bring me up again from the depths of the earth. May You increase my greatness and turn to comfort me. Psalm 71:14-15; 19-21

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