Yesterday, we visited Yad Vashim -- an eternal remembrance--the Holocaust Museum. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to read and do everything. Nonetheless, the visit was powerful. It was not as graphic as you might think--probably we decided because for most people around here these are personal experiences or family stories rather than a history of something that happened to someone else far away. THree places in particular brought me to tears. The first was the Children' Memorial. In the Children's Memorial, there is a tape constantly playing saying the names of each child lost. TO hear all the names, you would have to stay for a year and a half! In addition, they have a hall where there are candles lit for the children and becuase they couldn't light enough candles the room has mirrors everywhere so when you stand in the room all you see are lights flickering everywhere like you are surrounded by thousands of candles as you hear the names read. Another place was when I was reading a speach given by one of the leaders of a Jewish ghetto during the war as he begged his community to give up their children and old folks so that some of them could survive. The third was a display of shoes left behind by victims and I was struck by how the rest of the world (with the exception of Denmark) let these people go to their deaths with neither word or action. And for me, it reminds me of the neccessity of a Jewish state where they can be safe--more on those thoughts later.
In the afternoon, we went to the Israeli Museum where we saw the Shrine of the Book and a huge model of 1st century Jerusalem.
Late afternoon was simply fun. We shopped in the Cardo and in the Arab QUarter. THen at 6:30, we went on a tour of the Hasmonean Tunnel which takes you along the Western Wall below the Arab Quarter. Of all our under ground activities, this one was the best. Not just because it was lit and air conditioned, but also because it was fascinating. At one point, we actually stood on the street of a 1st century market. You have to realize how many times folks have built on top of things in Israel to realize that this just doesn't happen! We also visited the point that is the closest any0one can get to where the Holy of Holies would have been located. Robin said that "Holy Ground" was running through her mind. I was struck by how much more holy the exposed part of the wall had seemed to me on Friday night as we were surrounded by folks worshipping and celebrating. The tour ends right beyond the northern corner of the Western Wall--which is part of the Antonia Palace where if tradition is correct--Jesus was tried. Once again we were closer in that tunnel than we were at the shrines.
THe women finished the evening with dinner in the German quarter of the New City (where ICCI is located) and walked back to the hotel. Interestingly, while we all know the danger in Israel of bombs and such, it is a safe place for women and children to walk. In fact, the children here are wonderful--joyful and friendly for the most part.
Well, we leave JErusalem this morning. We have a text study with a Jew, a Muslim and a Christian, then we head to Tel Aviv where we will catch a flight at 4:30 in the morning local time!