yad vashem.


today I started out feeling thankful about not spending another day looking at rocks and dirt in the sun and I ended feeling thankful about a million different things for a million different reasons.

yad vashem is the holocaust museum in Israel. it was draining. but so completely moving and memorable. my favorite part was the first exhibit we walked—dedicated to the 1.5 million children killed during the war.

ophir (our Israeli professor) told us to think about the promise given  to Abraham—that his posterity would “number the stars in the sky”—as we were entering the children’s exhibit. we walked into the first dark chamber, and all you could hear was a voice reading off names in the distance. as we entered the second chamber, it was completely dark, except for the stars. the memorial was simple, it consisted of little lights and mirrors, that created infinite-starry-eternities in every direction. the voice kept reading off names, boys + girls, their ages, and their homes. each little light representing each little child.

that room felt sacred, to me. I could’ve spent hours just sitting and listening to each little’s name. I felt like they knew they were being remembered. and I felt like they were now being taken care of—reunited with their families and embraced by a loving father. the lights stretching in every direction reminded me about each little person’s eternity. and I felt thankful to know that that’s the plan for all of us.

we then wandered through the rest of the museum. it was saddening and humbling. my unique takeaway from this holocaust learning experience was understanding more about the importance of clothing. I know—that sounds shallow + random. but it’s significant. in my old testament class, dr. belnap has taught us about the significance of clothing—and how closely it is tied to and symbolic of our identities. there are countless references to clothing throughout the scriptures and it’s been remarkable to understand the symbolism and read the scriptures with that little piece of understanding. anyway, the museum was full of examples with clothing. I saw countless photographs of jewish people, naked or in rags, with shaved heads and no shoes. pictures I’ve seen countless times, but I never realized how demoralizing it was to have their clothing torn from them. essentially, their identities were being torn from them. one man said:

“then for the first time we became aware that our language lacks words to express this offense, the demolition of a man…we had reached the bottom. it is not possible to sink lower than this…nothing belongs to us anymore: they have taken away our clothes, our shoes, even our hair…they will even take away our name…”

it was heart breaking—to be honest. hard to look at, to (try and) understand, to internalize. I just kept thinking—“how, how on earth does something this big and this awful happen?”

yad vashem was touching. and it left me feeling really thankful for my life—and feeling responsible to shoot the world up with a little more goodness than I usually do.

to end on a lighter note. I love love love the nickels. they are a service couple here at the center. sister nickel calls me and ali ‘baby’ and she gives us treats when we need them. not to mention she’s stylish as heck. I wish I could adopt myself as one of her grandchildren sometimes. anyway, we watched the French cup in their apartment tonight, talked about boys, and ate magnum bars. a solid way to end the day.

remember—and feel thankful.

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