Yad Vashem means "a memorial and a name"; it comes from a verse from the Book of Isaiah in the Bible, saying "…I will give my house and within my walls a memorial and a name that shall not be cut off." The Yad Vashem Jerusalem is the official memorial in Israel to the Jewish Holocaust victims, and it's an unforgettable addition to any itinerary for a trip to the Holy Land.
The campus of Yad Vashem contains several museums and memorials honoring the victims and their families. The newest Israel Holocaust Museum is based on two vantage points, that of the general Jewish and that of the individual. Those who visit this museum are sure to be sobered and humbled by the enormity of the Holocaust and experience what a blessing life really is.
At the complex of Yad Vashem Jerusalem, visitors can traverse the halls of the Holocaust History Museum, the Museum of Holocaust Art, sculptures, the Children’s Memorial, the Hall of Remembrance, a synagogue, a library, and the International School for Holocaust Studies. Yad Vashem also has a memorial honoring those non-Jewish people who saved the Jews, calling them Righteous Among the Nations.
The Israel Holocaust Museum not only honors the dead, but it brings the events that took place to a more personal level. Visitors can see the faces of the men, women, and children whose lives were lost. Actual articles of clothing and the yellow Stars of David are on display. One little girl who died at the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau camp had her braids cut off by her mother before her death; those braids are on display at the Israel Holocaust Museum.
The Yad Vashem Jerusalem not only commemorates the six million Jews that were murdered during the Holocaust, but it provides an opportunity for education for visitors and at the School for Holocaust Studies; it is a documentation of history with names, photos, letters, and oral testimonies from survivors, and it also offers a chance for more research and development, encouraging the younger generations to continue the study of the Holocaust and publishing for authors who are passionate about these particular events frozen in time
The Yad Vashem is located on the Har Hazikaron in Jerusalem, and it's easily accessible by bus, taxi, or rental car. There are tours of the museums available, but a few important things to remember include that Yad Vashem is closed on Saturdays (the Jewish Sabbath) and all Jewish holidays, and that tours are available, but children under 10 are not permitted in the Holocaust History Museum.
Those who are planning a visit to Israel will most likely include Jerusalem on the itinerary, and during that trip, it's well worth making the sobering visit to Yad Vashem. It is a great opportunity to learn about one of the most horrific periods in history and to reflect on the gift of life and how much we take for granted.