Today began with Holy Eucharist at St George's Cathedral and then off to Hadassah Hospital which houses a synagogue with 12 stained glass windows created by Marc Chagall. There is one window for each of the 12 tribes of Israel. They are magnificently rich in color and content and meaning. The hospital is part of Hebrew University's Medical Center and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Today is the sabbath day and the synagogue was closed and yet they opened for us--a treat for us all.
From there we remained in West Jerusalem to visit Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum with our first stop at the Children's Memorial. This is a darkened building with hand rails around the circular space. It takes a moment for the eyes to adjust. Inside the darkened space are tiny lights, as if stars in the sky that suspend over several floors. The name and age of each child that died during the Holocaust are hauntingly and tearfully read. Not only do the eyes need adjusting, the heart must also adjust to the horrific notion of so many children being senselessly killed. The rest of the museum rips at the heart as you see shoes left at the furnaces, books burned, personal survivor stories, Nazi unbearable actions, medical experiments, the Hall of Memory, unbelievable human atrocities. The museum pulls the heart strings like no other museum.
After lunch we met our afternoon guide who gave us a different perspective on Yad Vashem. He was an Israeli Jew who volunteers with the Israeli Commission against Home Demolition. He passionately spoke to us about Deir Yassin, a Palestinian Village, where there was a massacre of inhabitants during the war of 1948. The village was taken over by the Israelis and was a critical battle for the war's outcome. It's now an Israeli Mental Hospital. There is no plaque that remembers those Palestinian villagers slaughtered on April 19, 1948. Our guide gave us insight into the inequalities that still exist among Abraham's children and tear at the heart. The situation is much too complicated to write here and more for me to sort through.
This was a day that brought heaviness of heart and historical horror beyond understanding. It is the sabbath, and our Jewish professor invited our class to share Shabbat dinner with her family. The horror of remembering made a turn into the joy of lighting candles, sharing prayers over wine and bread, and enjoying a delicious meal with hospitality just as Abraham showed the three Angels. This Shabbat time warmed the heart while at the same time holding onto the heart's cry for mending that is so needed in this place.