Living in the Shadow of Memory: Taglit Birthright


While the rest of the Taglit Birthright trip is upbeat and exciting, participants spend one of the 10 days visiting two of the most historic and emotional landmarks in Jerusalem.

We visited Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in the morning and went to Mount Herzl and the National Military Cemetery in the afternoon.

If Taglit took participants to only one of these sites in a day, it would have been a lot of information and history to process and would have been emotional for some people. However, they don’t. We saw 2 infamous sites in Jerusalem; making the day resonate with each participant. It was sad to hear stories from each of these places, but extremely eye-opening for everyone (participants, Mifgash/Israeli participants, Madrichim/Leaders, included). The theme of this day was: Living in the Shadow of Memory. This theme was on point.

The Children's Memorial at Yad Vashem - where each light represents a child who passed away during the Holocaust

The Children’s Memorial at Yad Vashem – where each light represents a child who passed away during the Holocaust

Canadians learn about the Holocaust and World War II in history class – it’s part of the curriculum. But seeing the exhibits, the memorials, reading the stories, completely re-frame any history lesson. The impact the Holocaust Museum leaves on people, is incredible as you hear and see so many new facts and stories that you had never thought of or heard before.

 

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Mount Herzl – Theodor Herzl’s burial site

Mount Herzl and the National Military Cemetery were also incredible. Theodor Herzl is known as the Father of modern political Zionism. What does that mean? It means that Theodor Herzl was the visionary of the Jewish-state of Israel. Mount Herzl is, actually located right next to the National Military Cemetery. Walking through the cemetery was heartbreaking. As we walked through the cemetery, we heard a memorial service on the anniversary of a soldier’s death. We also saw the graves of lone soldiers and learned that they always have people (most of whom are complete strangers) come to Lone Soldier’s funerals as a sign of gratitude for fighting for Israel and to show that they are not alone.

Israeli police attend a ceremony of laying Israeli flags on graves at the Mount Herzl military cemetery. April 22, 2012. Israel commemorates its fallen soldiers and victims on Memorial Day. Photo by Miriam AlsterFlash 90

Israeli police attend a ceremony of laying Israeli flags on graves at the Mount Herzl military cemetery. April 22, 2012. Israel commemorates its fallen soldiers and victims on Memorial Day. Photo by Miriam AlsterFlash 90

By the end of the day, after going through a roller-coaster of emotions, the group took time to reflect on the day and remember every detail that we saw. It was at this point, that it became undeniably clear, that Israelis aren’t just citizens of Israel, but are more like family; able to fight, learn, live, grow and always support each other – making Israel truly, a country like no other.