February 7, 2012

Israel–Day Eight

Friday was another emotional time – a visit to the Holocaust museum. Oh man. I can’t imagine being able to walk through there dry-eyed. To see such a comprehensive display of what happened; the scope of it, all of the countries that were complicit – well, it’s just beyond understanding, truly.
There were many videos of survivors telling their stories and those were what touched me the most. And then there were the piles of shoes and clothing, and confiscated silver, and photographs that people had thought to take with them. Its power is impossible to describe.
We went to the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are housed. And in the afternoon we took a tour of Bethlehem and visited the Church of the Nativity. Our guide couldn’t go to Bethlehem, and turned us over to a Palestinian guide. That was a trip. Not the guide part, but the church part. Masses of people being funneled down some narrow stone stairs, pushing and shoving (not very Christian-like) to see the altar where it’s said that Jesus was born. If I hadn’t been stuck in the middle of that crowd I might have opted out of the whole scene but once inside there was no going back. It was an interesting experience and the church was beautiful, but as a Jew it obviously didn’t have the same impact for me that it did on the Christian folks in our group.
Back at our hotel things were very quiet as Shabbot began. Elevator service was minimal, and non-Jews set up for the evening meal. There were lots of people hanging around in the lobby, which had been fairly quiet before then, just talking.
It was raining that evening so we did a brief bus tour of Jerusalem and the illuminated walls of the old city, and then we went to a Shabbot dinner at a kibbutz. Yes, another buffet.

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