We spent the day visiting Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial. The memorial sits high above the Jerusalem forest in a beautiful and serene location. The museum is amazing–we all agreed that it is one of the best museums we’ve seen on this trip, despite the sad and horrifying subject of the site. It presents an enormous amount of information about the Holocaust, and carefully describes not only the horrors of what occurred, but a sense of how the conditions for the Holocaust were created, and how Israel was born in response. But the displays are very thoughtful and understated, and convey the unthinkable truth of what happened through personal accounts (on video interviews with survivors periodically through the displays) and artifacts from the time, instead of shocking pictures. As we left, we pondered a question that we all agreed was an important one: how can it be that such a large group of people sat idly by and let this all happen? If the great multitudes were players, instead of spectators, the Holocaust would not have been possible. A lesson that merits repeating, again and again and again.
After our visit we walked through a thoroughly modern section of Jerusalem on our way back to our place. Along the way we passed the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. Jerusalem is not a particularly walker-friendly spot, but we were happy to see the richness of sights within the city–from the ancient sites of Old Testament and New Testament events, to the thoroughly modern seat of the Israeli government, to the open spaces.