Sunday, 29 December 2013

Yad V'Shem

Last Thursday we went to Yad V'Shem. There were many girls who were never there before and I'm sure it was a , let's say, emotional and informative experience for them. Though this is my second time, the shock was as raw as any other.
We always hear the stories, but seldom do we get to see history before our eyes. There were three parts of my tour that stuck with me and I'd like to share.
When you first walk in there is a video playing of life before the war, death, hate and destruction. Jews were dancing the hora, they were laughing and smiling. It broke my heart. I knew how the story would end.
There was a simple picture of Nazi soldiers, sitting around and relaxing. This picture was put up next to a picture of similar soldiers shooting Jews into a huge pit in the ground. The horrendous part? The photographer, to get that angle, would have needed to be on top of the Murdered Jews in the pit.
Our guide said that the Nazis should not be validated by calling them monsters. Its true. If the Nazis are monsters then it is reasonable that they should do monstrous things. But no, they were human beings, the same ones who, in the next picture over, were laughing and smoking and writing to their families.
Our guide gave us 4 minutes to look around and I sat down in a bench that was from the Warsaw Ghetto. Above me was a Lamp from the ghetto as well. I sat there, surrounded by artifacts, and reflected on all the things I just saw, all the horrors I just witnessed.
You look around and you see all the advances in technology, all the humanitarian aid, all the kindness that is spread around the world. Yet, these people, with families, people who actually love them, and are able to love in return, were able to unquestionably attempt to exterminate a whole race of people, women and children included, and then, to document it, they stepped on their dead bodies to get the "perfect angle."
So sitting there, I decided on the person I want to be. It's crazy to think that I was inspired by such horror. They say that Jews are supposed to be a light upon the nations. I decided I want to be the best person I can be. A moral, just, caring, considerate, Torah oriented Jew. I am a Jew before anything else I realized. And I know that when other people come to this conclusion, to become the people they want to be, only then, when I become that person, will I be the one joining others laughing, smiling and dancing hora with my fellow Jews.