Sitting and waiting, and contemplating…
So I am sitting in the Lobby of our hotel waiting for my ride to the airport. While I am waiting, all I have to surround me is my mind. There has been so much that I am almost on overload from the last two weeks. I cannot begin to explain or describe everything in one blog, so I think I will do it in four. In the coming days look for a blog about Israel’s Government, History, Science/Technology, and finally the Land itself.
But today, I want to talk about something that has weighed on me a fair bit since I did it; Yad Va’Shem. For those of you who do not know, Yad Va’Shem is the Holocaust Memorial here in Jerusalem, and it is an intense experience. I have been to several Holocaust museums, and I have heard many testimonies of survivors, but nothing compared to this museum. Fact and figures everywhere, actual historical relics from the camps and the people, story after story telling the tale of the Holocaust. As you walk through you cannot help but be overcome. It is just so much pain to take in, but that is only the beginning.
After you have been through all of this and experienced all of the pain and suffering, triumph and tragedy, the museum ends with the Hall of Names. This is a room and Going up to the ceiling is a cone with images and names and stories of the people who had their lives taken. As you spin around you see story after story of real people who experienced more than anything you could begin to imagine. The walls of the room are lined with books. In each of these books are testimony sheets that detail someone who lost their life in the holocaust. To date they have recorded the story of over Four Million holocaust victims, and they continue every day trying to identify every single one and hae they story held in the hall of names, forever remembered for their life and their pain.
I don’t want to keep going with this because even reflecting back I am reminded of the flood of emotion that hits you as you walk through these halls. The reason we did this is because it is Israeli Law. Everyone who wishes to be an ambassador must go through Yad Va’Shem and once through it, you enter the Hall of Remembrance, a very sobering stone room with the names of many of the camps engraved into its floor. In the center is a lamp-stand that is a symbol of the pain, and a sign to remind us of their lives, next to the lamp-stand is a small stone platform, and underneath are the ashes of many who lost the lives in the holocaust. To become an ambassador in Israel, you must come here to this room, and you must lay a wreath on the platform as a tribute to the victims, and a reminder to yourself of what great tragedy helped pave the way for the Jewish State of Israel.
There aren’t words to describe all of the emotion that flows when you experience this first hand. It was so much that you couldn’t even cry, because crying didn’t seem to be enough to express what you feel as you experience their stories. Anyone who wants to be an Ambassador for Israel will partake of this ceremony and will feel this level of emotion for themselves. But for now, I wanted you to understand, even if I can’t only explain it in part, what it means to be an Israeli Goodwill Ambassador and the significance of this class.
In the coming days I will have at least four more posts written on this School, and all that I experienced, but I felt this is the thing that I wanted to express the most.