Today we visited Mount Herzl and Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. Mount Herzl is Israel’s national cemetery and Yad Vashem is the state’s memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. Mount Herzl is named after Theodore Herzl, one of the early founders of Zionism. According to Yad Vashem’s website, its name in Hebrew is derived from a verse from the Book of Isaiah, which is part of the Hebrew Bible, “And to them will I give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name (Yad Vashem) … that shall not be cut off (Isaiah 56:5)”.
Both sites were powerful experiences for us. For me Mount Herzl symbolizes what Israel and the Jewish people sacrificed for the creation of the state and security. The cemetery also shows how important memorialization is in Israeli society. This is because our tour guide noted that schools, military personnel, and other individuals in Israel go to site and keep the discussion of the place going ,especially during Memorial and Independence Day. The discussion can include why is the site important, what role does it play in the Israeli nationalism discourse, and more.
Below is the grave of former Prime Minister and President of Israel Shimon Peres.
Below is a plaque in Yad Vashem.
Yad Vashem was an overwhelming experience for me. We saw several artifacts, images, videos, and more from the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. No words can describe what all of these people went through. One has to be truly be there to understand this feeling. The phrase never again kept going in my head as I went throughout the site.To me Holocaust is one the major turning points for the Zionist cause of establishing a Jewish homeland or state because the international community was presented with how dangerous the world can be for the Jewish people and why they must have security at all costs. However, it is also important to understand and be beware of what happened after the Holocaust and the establishment of Israel within the context of never again and security at all costs regarding the state’s relationship with Palestinians.