Yad Vashem by
25
(42 Stories)

Prompted By Finding Your Tribe

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I’m not a religious person but I’ve always been proud to be Jewish and deeply connected to my faith – and moreso when I’m in Israel.

The summer before he graduated from high school,  my son Noah spent 6 weeks there at a scouting program run by the Israeli army called Chetz V’keshet  (Arrow and Bow).

My husband  Danny and I planned to spend 10 days or so in Israel during that time, and would see my few Israeli relatives who lived there,  and the many more in Danny’s family.  In fact some of Danny’s relatives had gone to Palestine as early as the mid 1930s,  and in 1941 his uncles were among the founders of Dorot, an industrial and agricultural kibbutz where we’ve stayed near the northern Negev, not far from Gaza.

Chetz V’keshet had a strict parents visiting  policy and we could see our son only on nights when he was “on liberty”.  And so Danny and I planned accordingly.  spending time with our relatives, seeing more sights,  and touring the land.

One afternoon we went to the Israeli Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem (A Monument and a Name).

In the parking lot we saw a group of teenagers in uniform stepping off a bus.  We assumed they were young soldiers –  a common sight in Israel where everyone serves in the army after high school.

Entering the museum I was soon overwhelmed.   I’ve been to other Holocaust memorials before and since,  in New York and DC and Berlin,  but none could have prepared me for Yad Vashem.  It was the most powerful and the most moving – perhaps partly because it was in Israel.

On one wall were dozens of photographs of children who had perished in the camps.  I stood before it with tears running down my cheeks when  I heard a familiar voice behind me say “Mom”.   By serendipity the bus we had seen in the parking lot had just brought Noah and his group to Yad Vashem.

Wordlessly we reached for each other and embraced,  and together we cried for all the children who had no voice.

Dana Susan Lehrman

Me & Danny

Noah

Danny’s maternal cousins /  the Ben Dovs & the  Feldbrandts w Noah

Danny’s paternal cousins / the Be’ers, the Gorens & the Hermoni’s

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!
www.WorldThruBrownEyes.com

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Characterizations: been there, moving, well written

Comments

  1. Suzy says:

    I have been to Yad Vashem too, and it is indeed an overwhelming experience. How wonderful that Noah turned out to be there at the same time! I have to ask, who are all the people in the bottom two pictures? (The first two pictures are easy to figure out.)

    • Suzy, I’m sure you’ll agree that everyone should visit Yad Vashem, and especially Holocaust deniers!

      In third photo : Black shirt man and black top wife (their 3 kids absent that day), and red top woman (sister of black shirt man) and her red shirt husband and their two young sons are Danny’s maternal cousins. Noah is top right.

      They all lived for several years in the States before returning to Israel and thus we know them all very well. And those two boys have returned to the States and now live in New York with wives and kids. And the grown daughter of the black shirts also now lives with her husband and kids very near us in New York and we are very close. (BTW the matching colors on both couples that day was a coincidence!)

      In fourth photo: the three adults in center (red-haired woman, dark-haired woman and pink shirt man) are Danny’s paternal cousins, surrounded by their spouses and some of their collective children. We have visited back and forth over the years and have kept in close touch with them despite the miles.

      We have more Israeli family on Danny’s side and just a few more on mine. At our last visit we all went out for dinner and numbered 40, I think we have more family in Israel than in the States!

    • Suzy, I’ll try to label my photos next time.
      I see it is fun to see who’s who on everyone else’s photos!

    • Thanx Suzy, I went back and labeled the photos.
      Stay safe and wash your hands!

  2. Love this story, Dana. What a wonderful moment to share with Noah. It was a haunting moment for me too when I walked into the memorial for children at Yad Vashem. I remember the room was dark except for hundreds of twinkling lights, representing the thousands of children who had been murdered. It took my breathe away and like you, I wept.

  3. Laurie Levy says:

    Dana, this story brought tears to my eyes. Like you and your husband, I have a branch of my family who founded Kibbutz Ein Dor right after the war. Being in Israel used to be the ultimate tribal feeling for us, but we haven’t gone for a long time. I wonder how it would feel now?

  4. I haven’t been to Israel, Dana, but I won’t forget those last two paragraphs.

  5. Betsy Pfau says:

    Dana, this brought tears to my eyes. So moving, and what an incredible coincidence that Noah was there at the same time.

    As you will read soon, I’ve been to Israel, but in 1972 on a not very good trip (not exactly from “hell”, but aspects were pretty awful), but before Yad Vashem was built. Dan has no desire to go, and it isn’t at the top of my list, so I doubt we’ll get there.

    • Thanx Betsy, looking forward to reading your Israeli story,
      I don’t have anything for next week’s prompt, but maybe will write about my last two, very hectic days packing up to leave the city to hunker down at our county house – for who knows how long.
      Please stay safe everyone!

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