A Place and A Name

statue

There’s a holocaust memorial in Jerusalem called Yad Vashem. It houses a haunting museum detailing the pre-war conditions that led to Hitler’s Final Solution to the “problem of the Jews”, and an extremely thorough documentation of the measures enacted to eradicate a people group from existence.

It is vast,

Impossible to completely comprehend, even with multiple visits.

It is detailed,

Actual train cars and cobblestone streets from Eastern Europe have been transplanted into the building.

It is brutally humiliating,

The branding irons, razors, tattoo needles, and uniforms are on display.

Yet in the end there is hope.

In Hebrew, Yad Vashem means “a place and a name”.

The building is flanked by a walkway lined with carob trees.  The trees represent the approximately 20,000 documented people responsible for saving the life of at least one person during the Hebrew Shoah of the 20th century.

The walkway is named “The Boulevard of the Righteous Among The Nations.”  There are trees for Corrie Ten Boom and Oskar Schindler, and there are also trees for the faceless and barely celebrated.

Avenue

20,000 seems like a large number until you compare it with the tens of millions of people who lived in Eastern Europe at the time.  The scarcity of people willing to risk their lives to defy an empire isn’t surprising, but it does make you understand how precious and valuable that courage and compassion truly are.

In a cruel winter, when no other plants would blossom, a precious few buds of magnificent beauty opened their homes to the condemned… and this is why the Carob tree was chosen.

The Carob tree buds, even when harsh weather stifles the other plants.

Amongst the broken dolls, plundered jewelry, and forcibly extracted teeth there is a profound sadness that permeates the museum of Yad Vashem.  It is the mournful disquiet of the millions who were at best paralyzed by fear, and at worst activated by hatred.

It’s a brooding silence, the byproduct of impotent witness.

Outside, amongst the trees of The Boulevard there is also a silence: an inspiring presence informed by more than 20,000 people who did not care what the word Jew meant…

Because they knew what a human being was.

It’s a silence that both invites compassion, and inspires courage to bloom.

“Even unto them will I give in my house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off”. -Isaiah 56:5

Be not afraid to bloom.

Wow. It's Quiet Here...

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