Today, our group had an unbelievable day — we visited Yad Vashem, Mount Herzl, and the Kotel.
I feel humbled, unable to describe my feelings truly, but I need to try. The Holocaust museum in D.C. is powerful, overwhelming with its artifacts and level of detail. I was expecting a similar experience, but Yad Vashem was sharp and spare, yet also uplifting. As we made our way through the compartments, horror, and hate and death throughout, we arrived at the end, when families miraculously were reunited, when refugees made the dangerous trip through the British blockade to the shores of then-Palestine, and when the Jewish state was founded. There was hope.
Then we walked up Mount Herzl and visited the graves of those who gave their lives for the hope of a Jewish state, and those who died defending it. Again, this was a different experience from visiting Arlington, with its rows of crosses. Here, each person was remembered individually, with a yahrzeit candle and pebbles on the headstone, equal in death, without military rank distinguishing one from another. Among those buried on Mount Herzl were some who died five decades ago so that Jews could visit the Kotel.
We said the “Shehechyanu” as we entered the old city — like me, several of the women had never been there. I thought about the words, about being created, sustained, and brought to this moment. I thought about the tremendous history of the creation and destruction of both temples and how generations of Jews yearned to return to Israel and Jerusalem and felt incredibly fortunate.
The hope of two thousand years is real.
Pozez JCC / The JFGW