Nely Trip to Israel Day 4, 5/2010
Day four began with a talk from a man I would love to continue to study with, Dr. Shalmi Barmore, who is a Holocaust scholar. He personalized the experience of the survivors and the generations that followed. As a psychology graduate student I couldn’t help but think of the extreme Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome the Jewish people have experienced.
these are conversations that can’t be simplified into a couple of sentences. We had a deep and profound conversation with a learned man but who touched us in a very human way with a pain connection.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
I was impressed with the compassion, intellect and love displayed by my travel group on the trip. It has been truly wonderful to see us all, in this light; vulnerable, open and cracked wide open. I have loved it for all of us.
The day only got deeper when we went to The Holocaust Museum.
First, we were told that the word Holocaust means ” burnt offering”
and that it was a name given by others to the horrific events. The Israelis have decided to refer to the Holocaust as the Shoah, which means “destruction or destroyed” more appropriately.
We entered the children’s memorial, which was beautiful in its simplicity. It had thousands of little lights burning in a blackened room culminating in a series of holographic pictures of children.. Powerful, painful and again the tears were flowing.
We met Bernice, our guide through the museum. She was clearly a New Yorker and she told us she and her husband moved to Israel some years ago and she decided she wanted to share the story of the Shoah with everyone she could.
She did a masterful job of taking us through this extraordinary museum and narrating the story in a way I had never heard. This museum carries the stories of so many survivors of the Shoah that they have been able to tell a complete story from a first hand point of view.
Bernice explained the slow series of events that occurred in Germany and the world, leading up to WWII. She explained the history of anti semitism from ancient times leading to that era. She talked about the rise of a charismatic leader called” The Fuhrer” ( Hitler), and an economy and devastation that would all contribute to create the perfect storm of a the most horrific act in history. We learned all the twists and turns that led to the Shoah and all the times it could have been stopped- if only other countries had taken the Jews in as refugees, if only more people had spoken up or done something ( although the museum does honor the 23,0OO non- Jews who risked their lives around the world to help the them.)
I had to think, What would I do, would I help another and risk my self and my family? Would I speak up and not be a party to injustice? If I was the leader in a country, would I take in a poor group of immigrants, when my own people are suffering for lack of food or jobs? What kind of person would I be? You realize that in life you are tested in small ways daily, and the choices we make lead up to the measure of our character.
It is all very difficult to take in.
The time we spent at the museum was emotionally overwhelming, it was too much to process that much evil available in mankind. When Bernice humanized for us how this all happened slowly with small acts and judgments leading to a progression that came to a head in a terrible economy when Germans desperately wanted prosperity and Jews were an easy target for them.
In these tough times in the world, it makes you realize that as much as you want to believe this kind of genocide could never happen again to anyone, it could and in some parts of the world it is.
The terrible part is that in some way we all contribute to it.
Overwhelming ! I can’t help but feel that we live blindly in the U.S, Our concerns seem so trite when you travel almost anywhere else in the world and particularly when you are in a place like Israel, where the real issues in humanity are at the forefront everyday.
I don’t think we truly understand how vulnerable the entire world is and how it all could be gone in an instant.