Sunday: Yad Vashem. It has been 35 years since we visited the most famous Holocaust Museum in the world. It seems that you must get yourself ready for such a place, especially if you are Jewish. Yad Vashem sits atop Har Hazikaron(the Mount of Remembrance) in Jerusalem. The site covers 45 acres and includes many different exhibits. It was established in 1953 by an act of the Israeli Knesset. The Knesset wanted a museum that would commemorate the six million Jews that were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators. They believed it was imperative to preserve the heritage of the thousands of Jewish communities destroyed, pay tribute to the heroic stand of the fighters and ghetto inmates and honor the Righteous Among the Nations who risked their lives to save Jews.
Yad Vashem has several buildings and sites, each with a different emphasis. As we entered the complex, we realized that it was not the same museum that we had visited before. It was reconstructed in 2006. As we entered the first part, the Holocaust History Museum, we walked underground to nine galleries. These galleries tell the story of the Shoah from the Jewish perspective. The chronological and thematic narrative is punctuated by a look into the worlds of Jews who lived and died under the Nazis. These actual videos of survivors telling their stories made the experience very real. There were many people including myself, who needed tissues to wipe away the tears. We visited most of the sites and other museums there, but you will just have to go to Israel to see it for yourself. I will leave you with what one survivor said, though, " It is just inconceivable that the nations of the world and their governments stood indifferent to the annihilation of the Jewish people and that they actually tried to put an end to the flourishing cultural Jewish centers in Europe. We will never forget."