By Howie and Rachel Levin
Today was the first full day of activities in Jerusalem after our day of rest on Shabbat. We started the morning at Yad Vashem with a lecture by the Holocaust scholar Rachel Korazin who shared different Jewish perspectives regarding who is the true hero of the Holocaust. We then took a fast-paced tour of the museum (definitely takes longer than 15 minutes!) hearing some of the personal stories and learning the identities of a few of the 6 million Jews that passed during the Holocaust.
Following the tour, we had a behind-the-scenes look with Cynthia Wroclawski, chair of the Lehigh Valley's Partnership2Gether community in Yoav who works at the museum, at the process of archiving and identifying some of the 2 million Jewish victims that are still without names. Our time at Yad Vashem reminded us as time since the Holocaust continues to pass and the number of survivors dwindles, the increasing importance of preserving the memory for future generations so we never forget.
In the afternoon, we proceeded to learn about the great volunteering work of United Hatzalah emergency services. With the use of ambucycles (including the one donated by the Lehigh Valley), the first responders (both medical and mental health) are about to traverse the narrow streets of Israel to reach people in crisis in less than 90 seconds.
We then proceeded to the Old City and learned the history of the Jewish Quarter including a tour of the Hurva synagogue and the Western Wall tunnels. We also enjoyed the delicacies of falafel and shawarma and of course spent some time shopping for souvenirs. The experience in the Jewish Quarter reminded us of how all the major religions share the sanctity of the area and the persistence of the Jewish people to keep returning to Jerusalem despite others burning down the temples and attempting to turn them away.
We ended the day with a family dinner at Piccolino. It was nice to have a private room with the 13 of us where we could sit down and reflect on the day. There was a lot that had happened and we experienced. Each of us went around the room and said one word to describe our personal experience.
If you are interested in learning more about sharing the name of a holocaust survivor or victim. you can visit www.yadvashem.org.
If you would like to learn more about United Hatzalah you can visit www.israelrescue.org.