Memorial building at Yad Vashem
We spent the first part of the afternoon visiting Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. This was a very emotional visit for our entire group. The museum is set up as a campus with exhibits inside and memorials outside. I was struck by the detailed symbolism of the museum. For example, the exhibits are laid out in a labyrinth that help you experience the tragedy and entrapment as it unfolded during the Holocaust. Visiting the memorial which contains the remains of some victims was very moving as our tour guide recited the 23rd Psalm.
After visiting the Children's Memorial, several members of our Milwaukee group shared their stories of family members who perished and those who survived. Above, city leader Dana Margolis recounts her grandfather's miraculous story of survival.
After Yad Vashem, we toured the Old City of Jerusalem. Above is a boy's school located on the oldest square in the Jewish Quarter. Being in the Old City, which is over 3,000 years old, felt like I was visiting a museum. Yet this museum is alive and being used in everyday life, where you are able to touch the artifacts.
Above is the Cardo, an ancient marketplace next to the Holy Temple. From 1948 until 1967, Jews didn't have access to the Old City. When they rebuilt the Jewish Quarter after the Six Day War, the discovered the ruins of the Cardo.
After touring the Old City, we visited Aish Hatorah where we shared our feelings about the day. Then our city leaders gave us personalized Siddurim (prayer books). As Dana gave us the books, she also shared a personal blessing for each of us.
Our final group activity of the day was also the most momentous experience of the trip so far. As a group of 200 women, we walked silently, holding hands, down to the Kotel (Western Wall), where we prayed. Being at the Kotel and in Israel for my first time, truly feels like coming home.