By Pat Cantwell
The building was triangular shaped, constructed of cold, gray concrete like a bunker, and yet it appeared as a prism of light with a skylight at the apex.
As we approached the entrance, my friend Noreen said, “I don’t think that I can do this.”
I had visited before, so I answered, “It is difficult, but it is something that that we must do.”
We were entering Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.
The Holocaust began in 1933 under the Nazis. Educators used propaganda and lies to promote the false idea of a superior Aryan race, which they taught to innocent children, beginning in kindergarten.
The irony is that for over 3,400 years, the Jews have prayed twice a day, a prayer in which God commands them to teach their children about God, “as they rise up, as they sit down as they go on their way…” The Jews taught their children that only God is superior.
As I entered another gallery, I was stopped by a wall-size photograph of a German soldier ready to fire his rifle into the back of the head of a young mother, holding her dead child.
The Nazis recorded and photographed every atrocity they initiated and participated in.
The greatest problem of the third Reich was the disposal of the bodies of 6 million Jews, whom they had murdered. But to the Jews, the greatest problem was and still is to find the names of every man, woman, and child lost. That is why the name of this museum is taken from Isaiah 56:5, where God speaks, “And to them will I give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name (Yad Vashem) … that shall not be cut off.”
There is a small children’s museum. You enter into complete darkness, holding on to a hand rail, and as you walk, you see tiny lights overhead. You hear in seven languages the name, age, and home town of the 1.5 million children who were killed. The reading of names never stops 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
As we exited out onto a terrace, into the light, with all of Jerusalem at our feet, Noreen and I clung together; we would never forget.
In 1978, the United States Congress designated an annual week called Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust. This time is set aside for civic commemorations and education programs to help citizens remember and draw lessons from the Holocaust.
A National Civic Commemoration is held in Washington, D.C., with state, city, workplaces, schools, and faith communities programs held in most of the 50 states, and on military ships around the world.
This year, Days of Remembrance began Sunday and goes through this Sunday.
May you never forget.
Pat Cantwell writes about faith for the Portales News-Tribune. Contact her at: