Sunday, October 30, 2011

Holy sites in modern Israel.

What a day! In Jerusalem there is a burning fight not just for land but for truth and a battle for memory. Holy sites exist on all sides. No one can be neutral about Jerusalem. Anyone who claims to be objective is either a liar or a fool.
So let's begin today's journey when we met up with Amir cheesiness a retired army officer and former advisor on Arab affairs to the late mayor of Jerusalem Teddy Kolleck. This man was a no nonsense military man not a diplomat. He focused his lecture to us on the Arab Israeli problem of demographics in Jerusalem. He discussed the impact of the well known security fence upon Jerusalem Jewish Arab ratio. Apparently the gap is narrowing from a 75-25percent Jewish Arab population ratio to a %67 to %33 ratio in the next few decades. In fact Arab residents who live on the other side of the fence have their yellow card pass through the checkpoints and go to work in Israel. Also the affluent ones are now buying from Israelis their expensive homes in places like the once totally Jewish French Hill section of Jerusalem. We learned many more facts on the ground never reported in the press. His outstanding talk gave us much to be concerned about regarding the demographic threat to Israel's territorial integrity.

Off we went to start the journey of the heart. We arrived at Yad V'Shem the Holocaust memorial and museum to the 6million. We received an introduction by our guide at the avenue of the righteous Gentiles who risked their lives to save Jews. Most had been to the Washington memorial museum.people commented that Yad V'Shem felt tame compared to thewashington monument. Our group was certainly affected each in their own way.We traversed the exhibition until we arrived at the end. I could see in their eyes the sadness and the heart wrenching emotions rising to the surface as we gathered together. At that point we entered the Yad VShem synagogue. They let us come in and in this beautiful wooden contemporary style with a magnificent ark from Europe.our soloist Judy Bluestone sang and Felicia Pascal read from Jewish poetry on the Shoah holocaust. We needed to express ourselves spiritually in ways where just plain talking about our feelings would not suffice.
Lunch in the cafeteria was ok and a necessary break from this vigil into the kingdom of night.Afterwards we prepared ourselves to enter the heartbreaking memorial to 1.5million children who the Nazis murdered during these years of the Shoah. We walked into a dark winding pathway where we could here a voice out of the darkness say the name and age of the child. As we heard this voice recite an endless list of names, we gazed at the lights of 5 candles refracting against the glass so that it looked like a million lights. I
Will not say anymore on this subject. Needless to say Yad V'Shem opened up many eyes and continued the learning process. I do not want to forget to mention the numbers of soldiers who came to learn about the holocaust. In fact Tamar says it is required for every soldier to visit Yad V'Shem
Next we drove to mt Herzl to visit the grave of the founder of the modern state of Israel Theodore Herzl. The exhibition and movie teaching his life were excellent. The movie traced the story of an Israeli actor preparing for the role of Theodre Herzl in a movie. Creative approach to what could have been a tedious approachbut the movie was contemporary while teaching about his life and the times he lived in that led Herzl to make a huge contribution to the history of Zionism. Not Done yet!
Our final stop was at the national military cemetary. That took many of us by surprise our guide Tamar took us to the grave of the famous and beloved Israeli war hero johnathan Yoni Netanyahu. We felt the shivers as Tamar narrated his story. There it was this respected icon of holy sites and precious memories. As tired and emotionally drained everyone was we all felt we had done the right thing by pushing ourselves to visit these graves of Israel's fallen.
A final ride back to the hotel for a respite and then we walked over through the unbelievable Mamilia street open Mall to a restaurant called coincidentally enough Herzl. You can put it on your restaurant to go visits.
We were drained emotionally from today. It was ok nevertheless.
Shalom from yerushalayim
Rabbi Bloom

One would think that was enough.

No comments: