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Peter Stevenson visits Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem
Earlier this year, I took part in a trip to Jerusalem organised by the Council for Christians and Jews as an education in the Holocaust studies. They hoped it would make participants into Holocaust educators, highlighting the need to remember the Holocaust and engage with its legacy in Christian communities.
Before our arrival, Yiftach Meiri of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Remembrance Centre, sent a list of things we might like to know, including:
• It is expensive here except in the Palestinian part – it’s cheaper there.
• The idea of queuing properly has not reached this region.
• Same goes for the idea of private space.
• Most cars don’t stop at pedestrian crossings. You just have to make a point of it that you are going to cross whatsoever.
• About 38% of the people living in Jerusalem are Palestinians, 22% are ‘Ultra religious’ Jews, 17% are ‘traditional’ Jews, 13% are secular Jews and about 10% are religious Jews.
The programme at Yad Vashem was demanding, with lectures, workshops and tours every day except on shabbat when we were given a tour of the Old City. We were taught about pre-war Jewish Life, the beginning of persecution, the murder of European Jewry, theological reactions during the Holocaust, and finally liberation and survivors. While the genocide committed by the Third Reich was not restricted to Jews, approximately six million Jews were murdered between summer 1941 and the end of the war in Europe in May 1945. Our teachers argued that the specific annihilation of one social group sets it apart from other genocides. Yad Vashem translates ‘a memorial and a name’, and the site is dedicated to remembering each person murdered during the period….
Peter Stevenson is the Minister at Stamford United Reformed Church and ChristChurch, Grantham
This is an extract from an article published in the June 2022 edition of Reform