An emotional trip to Yad Vashem

An emotional trip to Yad Vashem

Our conversion students in Machon Milton went on a moving and emotional trip to Yad Vashem: World Holocaust Center, Jerusalem in the days leading up to Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.
 
Rabbi Reuven Tradburks, director of Machon Milton, brought the group and arranged for a wonderful guide, an attorney who volunteers his time because of his passion for educating people.
 
The tour was emotional and powerful, and a tremendous learning experience for all. Afterwards, one of the older conversion students who lived her whole life Jewish, but not according to halacha, said she learned a lot about the Holocaust on the trip. She  always knew a lot about the Holocaust but to go to Yad Vashem and learn the actual history, and what happened at the different stages, gave her a different perspective and she was very appreciative.
 
One of the students wondered if she had ‘a right’ to be a part of this history as it’s not really her history as a convert. She remarked that she felt ashamed and inadequate to be a part of it.
 
One of the other students said, “I know how you feel; but think, for example, how Sephardic Jews who weren’t a part of it relate to the Holocaust? They feel it deeply because they’re a part of the Jewish people. Once you have joined the Jewish people, it’s a part of your history. It may not have happened to your family, but it’s YOUR family now.”
 
It was interesting to note what kind of Holocaust education they had growing up. One woman from middle America said her school had Holocaust month every year and they studied it a lot. Another man from Holland said he grew up his whole life with Holocaust education. Being European, he always wondered when encountering older German men where they were during the war. One man he met insisted he wasn’t anywhere near what the Nazis were doing and in fact, it made him wonder if his deep protest were masking something different altogther.
 
Overall, the group reported a very positive experience overall, despite seeing the depths of human depravity exhibited at the museum. Perhaps it was triggered by the closing conversation of the special privilege they all felt that after walking out of Yad Vashem they stand in the hills of Jerusalem, proud of the State of Israel, and of being able to truly defend our people.

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