We crammed so much into today, there is not enough space for everything here so I will give brief highlights and cut/paste a lot of different pieces of info from other sources (creativity running low here, apologies!).
We started at Hezekiah’s (Water) Tunnel. Here’s a video my friend Andrew took:
Click here for the video
Off to the Israel Museum…
We toured the Israel Museum which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls and includes in it a 1st century BC copy of the book of Isaiah in its entirety. They have a replica stretched around the giant scroll in this room:
From here we visited Yad Vashem – the world’s largest Holocaust museum. While deeply confounding and emotion stirring throughout, the most moving piece was at the end in the Hall of Names. Cameras were not allowed to be used in this place and there is much more that can be said about this remarkable museum and its message to the world than there is room for here.
From the Yad Vashem website:
“The Hall of Names at Yad Vashem is the Jewish People’s memorial to each and every Jew who perished in the Holocaust – a place where they may be commemorated for generations to come.
The main circular hall houses the extensive collection of “Pages of Testimony” – short biographies of each Holocaust victim. Over two million Pages are stored in the circular repository around the outer edge of the Hall, with room for six million in all.
The ceiling of the Hall is composed of a ten-meter high cone reaching skywards, displaying 600 photographs and fragments of Pages of Testimony. This exhibit represents a fraction of the murdered six million men, women and children from the diverse Jewish world destroyed by the Nazis and their accomplices. The victims’ portraits are reflected in water at the base of an opposing cone carved out of the mountain’s bedrock.”
On a very quiet bus ride, we made our way back into the old city of Jerusalem.
Just before dinner, we were privileged to hear from two men – one Palestinian, one Israeli – both of whom lost a daughter (10 years and 14 years old respectively) at the hands of people from the opposite side of the Conflict. These two men worked through their grief and instead of seeking revenge, seek shalom. They are part of the Parents Circle Family Forum which “is a joint Palestinian Israeli organization of over 600 families, all of whom have lost a close family member as a result of the prolonged conflict. Joint activities have shown that the reconciliation between individuals and nations is possible and it is this insight that they are trying to pass on to both sides of the conflict.”
The closing message from these two gentlemen was that it’s not about being pro-Israel or pro-Palestine but about being pro-peace…something we can and should all be on board with. Interestingly, as a follow up the Israeli says “With all due respect to my people, what Israel is doing by way of oppression and the occupation is not Jewish, nor is protesting these things anti-Semitism.”
The theme has rung clear this week: living stones telling stories for themselves so that the world may know and so that people who hear these stories firsthand can be agents for peace in the communities to which they will return.
Tomorrow our day is dedicated to the Passion Week.
May the peace of Christ be with you always.