Yad Vashem wasn’t the first memorial to Holocaust victims I’ve visited. A few years ago, my friend, Sharon, and I spent over three hours at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D. C.
There have been moments when I’ve wished I could erase Holocaust memories, but I know they will remain with me always. In actuality, however, no matter how painful the memories, I never want to forget. Some horrors need to be committed to memory, need to burn in the heart. If I’m not willing to embrace the reality of injustice and inhumanity, I run the risk of denying or minimizing the capacity of mankind to rise to heights of unimaginable depravity.
Quoting from the description of Yad Vashem in the Holy Ground Exploration tour journal:
Yad Vashem, Remember the Names, is Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust…The memorial consists of a complex containing the Holocaust History Museum, the Children’s Memorial and the Hall of Remembrance.
A core goal of Yad Vashem’s founders was to recognize gentiles who, at personal risk and without a financial or evangelistic motive, chose to save their Jewish brethren from the ongoing genocide during the Holocaust. Those recognized by Israel as Righteous Among the Nations are honored in a section of Yad Vashem known as the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations…
Corrie Ten Boom and Oskar Schindler are two of the gentiles honored at the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations. I’ve read several of Ten Boom’s writings and consider her book, The Hiding Place, an essential-read. I’ve seen Schindler’s List, a movie I believe is a must-see.
While many aspects of Yad Vashem touched me, I believe the most challenging aspect of the visit was the Garden of the Righteous…and in particular the story of one young professional woman.
Before our visit to the Memorial in Jerusalem, I’d never heard of Irena Sendler. This amazing woman is credited with saving from Holocaust genocide the lives of 2500 Jewish children, who were imprisoned by the Nazis in the Warsaw ghetto. She died May 12, 2008, at the age of 98. Although it cannot be verified because official records are sealed, it is believed Irena was a candidate for the Noble Peace Prize in 2007, which instead was awarded jointly to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Al Gore.
When I returned home from Israel, one of the first things I did was conduct internet research on Irena Sendler. I wondered about this woman’s purpose, resourcefulness and resolve. I wondered what she could teach us.
It would be easy to relegate her to a list of people I admire.
Or, I could add her to my much shorter list of people who are my heroes.
I decided, instead, to add the name of this remarkable woman to my list of people who teach, challenge and motivate.
I absolutely love this picture of Irena! As I look at the wrinkles on this lovely lady’s face, I wonder if the furrows on her forehead resulted from the stressful, strenuous ordeal of the Warsaw Ghetto, WWII or torture inflicted by Nazis. I’m quite certain each wrinkle around her eyes, mouth and gracing her cheeks is one created by kindness, joy, gentleness and laughter.
In the next Listening on YOUR Journey post, I’ll tell you more about Irena Sendler. I hope you’ll take time to join me.
- Note: For more information about your own trip to Israel, we recommend highly Dan and Sharon Stolbarger, our group leaders. If this is a trip you’d love to make, check them out at http://holygroundexplorations.com/ ↑
- http://www.snopes.com/politics/war/sendler.asp ↑
- Resources I researched included: http://www.israelvideonetwork.com/ ↑