Thursday, January 21, 2010

To Israel with Temple Beth Zion and Westminster Presbyterian Church Part 5

January 21, 2010

Today was a somber day, but this evening was filled with joy.

We began the morning at Hadassah Hospital to see the magnificent Chagall Windows and learn a bit about the incredible work and research at the hospital.

We then proceeded to Har Herzl, Mount Herzl, Israel's main military cemetery which also contains the graves of some of it's most important leaders. I am always moved by our visits here and each time see something new. This visit was no different. As we approached Theodore Herzl's grave there were a number of new Israeli soldiers surrounding it as they learned about Herzl and the early Zionist movement.

We left the grave and went to a place in the cemetery where we could visit the graves of those who fell during the first Lebanon war. Buried among those dead was the grave of Yigal Yadin, most known for being the head archeologist at Masada but who was also a military leader and hero. When he died, he asked to be buried among his troops.

We left Har Herzl and went to Yad VaShem, Israel's Holocaust memorial and museum. As always, the range of emotions was broad. There were those who had to get out of the museum as soon as possible as they could not deal with the horror and those who read every word in every exhibit in order to try and comprehend the horror. We comforted each other, held each other up and supported one another.

We left the museum, had a Yizkor service in the Hall of Remembrance, honored the memory of the 1.5 million Jewish children killed in the Holocaust at the Children's Memorial and finished at the path which honors the Righteous Gentiles who at great risk to themselves and their families helped save Jews. I have never been to Yad VaShem with an interfaith group. But standing their with our partners from Westminster, who are now more than partners - they are friends, gave new meaning to this garden path. If God forbid we ever needed their help, I do not believe, but I KNOW they will be there for us, standing with us against those who would seek to destroy us.

This evening we had a joyous, raucous time. Just over half of us went to my favorite restaurant, Samy on Agrippa Street (yes this is a shameless plug for them!) Together we ate, we laughed, we bonded, we ate some more. It was the perfect end to our day.

Tomorrow we go to the Dead Sea and then come back to Jerusalem to welcome Shabbat!

Shalom from Israel,

Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld

1 comment:

  1. There is, indeed, an amazing bond between those of us who have been to Israel with a group from Westminster. Your words about your visit to Yad VaShem will bring back memories to those of us who experienced that unique solidarity. Shabbat Shalom to all.