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Friday, May 30, 2008

Yad VaShem

Our shul (synagogue) organized a trip to Yad VaShem this morning.

I had not been to Yad VaShem in a long time. Several years ago, the museum was completely revamped.

The new museum is quite impressive, both in its content and layout. One of the members of our shul works there and gave us an interesting tour, including an insider's perspective on the architecture and design of the new museum.

Everyone deals with the Holocaust in his/her own way.

For me, it is a heart-wrenching reminder that we, Jews, need to be strong and self-sufficient.

Towards the end of the museum, is the list, drawn up by the German leadership at the Wannsee Conference, for the "final solution to the Jewish problem." The list is of Jewish populations by country, ranging from Poland's 2,284,000 Jews down to Albania's miniscule 200 Jews. At that point, our guide pointed out that the Germans murdered hundreds of thousands of Gypsies and millions of Russians; but the only group the Germans sought to destroy to the very last number was the Jews. The Holocaust, he emphasized, was a war against the Jews.

Today, there are still people who want to destroy the Jews. Many of them live here, in Israel.
Many more live in the countries surrounding Israel. I believe these people when they say that they want to destroy us. I believe them when they say that first they will capture the land diplomatically and then they will destory us physically.

It makes me sad. It makes me scared.

On the day Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany, Moshe's grandfather was in Belgium for business. He called his wife and told her to shut the blinds, stay home, pack their bags, and take the last train out of Munich to Belgium.

This sound sensible to us, today. At the time, his friends and colleagues teased and derided him. They thought he was "paranoid" and "overreacting;" they nicknamed him "Jeremiah" (which is more accurate than they intended, since Jeremiah's doomsday predictions did come to pass).

Even Moshe's grandfather did not fully estimate the danger. Belgium fell to the Germans and Moshe's family fled again, this time crossing Europe on foot!

Because Moshe's grandparents took the threat of danger seriously, they survived.

Before the Holocaust, there were people, like Jabotinsky, who warned of impending doom. But most people, including most Jewish leaders, dismissed the threatening signs and disregarded the violent words and activities.

Then, like now, Ha'aretz had articles minimizing the threat of our enemies. (see this article f or quote from Ha'aretz articles in November and December 1932)

We say "never again." But slogans will not deflect our enemies.

When will we learn that when people say they want to destroy us, them mean it?

When will we stop justifying the activities of our enemies?

How can an entire country of Jews not understand that the most fundamental reason for a modern Jewish state is to protect Jewish lives?

I want peace. But I want to survive even more.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,


Anonymous said...

Very well said. Thanks for saying it.

Batya said...

I hate Yad Veshem and the signs saying that "Jews perished." They were murdered, by guns, abuse, fire etc.