Thursday, March 26, 2009

Six Million Reminders

Thank you to everyone who offered their condolences about my Aunt Mickey's passing (see post below). Like myself, Mickey was never much of a practicing Jew, but also similarly, she was always proud of her heritage. So I think it may have been somewhat fitting that today, in addition to getting back to the Wailing Wall and making it up to the Temple Mount to take great pictures of the Dome on the Rock (but not actually enter, as that is reserved for Muslims), I spent well over 3 hours at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem's museum about and memorial to the 6 million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust (the museum text pointedly uses the word "murdered" extensively).

I have certainly read much and seen many movies about the Holocaust, visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, and toured numerous other Holocaust remembrance sites, everywhere from Prague to Amsterdam to Venice and beyond. And in less than a month, after a long genesis, a new Holocaust Museum will open in my hometown of Skokie, and it supposedly will be one of the largest in the U.S. Obviously, the topic can't be anything but harrowing, but it was especially so in a museum in Jerusalem. Particular lowlights (to say "highlights" just seems wrong) included an actual rail car that transported people to Auchwitz, barracks from one of the camps and a model depicting how victims were led to the gas chamber.

Certainly, this wasn't enjoyable to see, but yet it felt essential. And if you've been reading along, you've probably picked up on my admitted lack of Jewish devotion and may have wondered what compelled me to visit Israel. Obviously, the Holocaust was a horror that you don't need to be Jewish to grasp, but without saying this as evocatively as I might, Yad Vashem helped to remind me of my inherent identification with Judaism, one of which I am proud and would never want to forget.

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