Friday, May 13, 2011

Yad Vashem and the Other Holocaust

I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.
Isaiah 56:5

Photo, "Hall of Names," by David Shankbone. Used in compliance with copyright requirements.

One of the most moving stops during my tour of Israel was our visit to Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust Museum and Memorial. Yad Vashem is Hebrew for "a place and a name," and is taken from Isaiah 56:5. The national museum and memorial is a place of remembrance of not only the Holocaust itself, but also a place where visitors can meet the people who suffered and died during this world tragedy.

And this is what touched me most about my visit to Yad Vashem. There, I came face-to-face with not only the tragic event, but also with the people who lived and died as a result of it. The museum focuses not only on life and death for the Jews during the Holocaust. It also further humanizes those who experienced the Holocaust by chronicling life for the Jewish people prior to Hitler's entrance on the world stage.

The museum is filled with artifacts--personal affects of those who were murdered throughout Europe, during the Holocaust. The artifacts also include actual tools used by the Nazis to murder their victims and dispose of their bodies.

The layout of the museum is such that the visitor is taken through a chronological, historical tour of the Holocaust. It is remarkable how the museum's structure places the visitor not only in the period of time, but also in the shoes of those who experienced the Holocaust.

Yad Vashem is the type of museum, not unlike the Smithsonian, which requires multiple visits over several days to grasp the breadth of material presented.

Our tour began with a presentation by David, a senior representative of the tour company that facilitated our tour of Israel. During his presentation, he introduced us to the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations.

The Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations is a memorial to the Gentiles (non-Jews) who, in various ways and resulting in various consequences, did what they could to help save Jews from extermination, during the Holocaust. Each of the more than 23,000 trees in the garden represents and individual or family who were counted among the righteous by the Jewish people.

The tree to the left is a memorial to Corrie ten Boom, her father, and her sister. Corrie's father and sister were murdered in concentration camps. Corrie survived to have a Christian ministry that literally impacted the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I learned something fascinating about Corrie's tree. Her tree was originally planted in the 1960's. But her tree died on April 15, 1983. And what is significant about that date? Corrie's tree died the same day her physical life ended on this Earth and she began her eternal walk with God. The tree in the photo was planted following her death. That is why it is one of the smallest trees in the garden.

The first display I saw, in the first wing of the Holocaust Museum, set the tone for the remainder of my time in the museum.

On the wall as you enter the room is a quote by Kurt Tucholsky, taken from a letter he wrote to German-Jewish author Arnold Zweig. In German, the quote reads:
Aber ein Land ist nicht nur das, was es tut – es ist auch das, was es vertrÃĪgt, was es duldet.
The English translation is as follows:
A country is not only what it does - it is also what it puts up with, what it tolerates.
The Holocaust was not only a result of what the Nazis did to the Jewish people. It was also the result of what the German people put up with--what they tolerated. They voted Hitler and the Nazis into power. The German people, by and large, stood by and did nothing as millions of people were exterminated at the hands of their fellow countrymen. They sat idle as their friends, countrymen, and neighbors systematically disappeared from their homes, schools, and businesses only to be herded like cattle in trains to concentration and death camps within the borders of their own country.

The Holocaust was not only the result of the evil of one man or one political party. The Holocaust was the result of the collective, depraved indifference of a nation.

Alan Pearson brought the quote on the wall to my attention. We both fought back tears as we read and reread the quote. For the quote not only drove home a primary cause of the Jewish Holocaust, but it also drove home in each of our minds the primary cause of another Holocaust--one that has taken place for decades in our own country and around the world.

And what is this Holocaust? It is the systematic extermination of millions of unborn children, through the murderous act known as abortion.

A country is not only what it does - it is also what it puts up with, what it tolerates.

Millions of unborn children are murdered every year in the United States by their mothers, fathers, doctors who are charged to do no harm, politicians, religious leaders, political leaders, voters, and yes, so-called Christians.

The active slaughter by some and the depraved indifference of others has resulted in a Holocaust that dwarfs the Holocaust of the Jewish people. The Holocaust of the Jewish people was and is no less significant than the Holocaust of the unborn. But in shear numbers, the Jewish Holocaust was small when compared to the murderous rampage of the unborn that is taking place in the United States and around the world, today.

Every .75 seconds, an unborn baby is murdered in the womb somewhere in the world. Every .75 seconds. That means 42,000,000 babies are murdered every year around the world. 42,000,000. Seven times the number of Jewish people murdered during the Holocaust are murdered every year in what should be the safest place on planet Earth--a mother's womb.

I began this article by showing you a picture of the Yad Vashem Hall of Names. It is the last room one visits as they make their way through the Holocaust Museum. The ceiling is lined with photos of people who were murdered during the Holocaust. Below the photo-lined dome ceiling are shelves filled with binders. Each binder is filled with the names and whatever biographical information is available for those who were murdered during the Jewish Holocaust.

Now imagine such a room dedicated to the ultrasound images and names of the murdered unborn. A museum large enough to contain such a room would be an engineering and construction marvel that would rival the various man-made wonders of the world.

Soon, I will announce details regarding Living Waters' concerted world-wide effort to bring an end to the Holocaust of the Unborn. Until then I want you to remember the words Yad Vashem--"a place and a name."

Yad Vashem. God has given a place and a name for every murdered unborn child. Each baby is a precious child created in the image of God. Woe to those who murder or serve as co-conspirators in the murder of these precious children.

A country is not only what it does - it is also what it puts up with, what it tolerates.

The United States, along with many other nations around the world, stands guilty as charged.

And what about you?  Will you be remembered like those who are numbered in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations?  Or will you be remembered like the millions of Germans whose depraved indifference contributed to the murder of millions of innocents?