Day 26: Yad Vashem

Trip Start May 14, 2008
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Trip End Jun 17, 2008


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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Chagit, Avi's cousin, is our tour guide at Yad Vashem today.  She is a religious woman with six children, who not only cares for their kids, but works here at Yad Vashem.  We don't know how she does it.   

We have been to the Holocaust Memorial in Washington D.C. and to the small dramatic memorial here in Miami Beach.   Nevertheless, returning to Yad Vashem after thirty-seven years was sobering.  The memorial is in a new facility and the architects have merged form and symbolism in a creative, elegant way.  No photos were allowed in the interior of the museum, so you we cannot share what we have seen.  That is a good thing I think.  Walking through the memorial is a solemn experience, best not to lessen the impact with the distraction of taking photos.  There are audio guides and the museum is well marked, so a private guide really is not necessary.  However, Chagit added another dimension to the experience through her commentary, thought provoking questions and being sure we did not miss key displays or rooms.  After Chagit left us around noon, we had a light lunch in the museum café, and then returned to see other buildings in the memorial complex.  

It was an emotional, heavy day.  Harvey comments as we are leaving, that the real question for each person who comes here is to ask, "what action can I take so that this doesn't happen again?"   Genocide is a present day crime against humanity.   What is it about man and countries that allow this to continue?   We discuss what actions we could possibly take.  It's a topic to be continued when we get home.

We know we are back to reality when the lone taxi driver at Yad Vashem wants too much for the return trip.  Another couple had also turned him down and is trying to figure out how to find another taxi.  Then this taxi driver negotiates with both of us, lowering his price for each, but since we are sharing the cab, he makes out like a bandit!  He leaves us off where we can get an ATM machine  (at the corner of King George and Jaffa Streets) using our foreign debit card, which performs just like a credit card but takes less of a percentage in processing fees.

On our walk back to the hotel, we are crossing the street because of construction and doing some jay walking.  A car stops to let us pass.  We see the driver is Mordechai from Safed!  I jump up and down waving and yelling out MORDECHAI!  It is another Kabbalah moment.  Isn't it incredible that our paths crossed again?  Is there a meaning?

We pass the YMCA and go inside to see if there is a community computer where we can check mail.  We are about to pay when someone tells us that the connection is really slow and expensive, and that they had used up their initial payment just getting to the website where they check mail!  So we go across the street and got fast and more expensive.  We were hoping that Madeleine Lavine, our guide for tomorrow, had sent an email with her phone number.  Without our laptop, we didn't have access to her contact information and we hadn't called her to double confirm.  We are relieved to see her email and we phone her right away, leaving a voice mail, as well as an email response. 
 
Back at our hotel room, Harvey calls the Apple contacts from our fellow TripAdvisors.  We learn that we could get a new power adapter for about $185 plus tax.  With just a week remaining before returning home, we decide to stay with handwritten daily journals.  We assess the disk space on our camera flash media cards and determine that we should have enough for the remainder of the trip

Harvey had just gotten off the phone when Madeleine calls and says she is in the lobby of our hotel!  We come down to the lobby and just as I am saying to Harvey that I didn't know what she looks like, she clearly recognizes us - she has been reading our postings and looking at the photos!  We meet her three clients for the day who are also staying at the Mount Zion Hotel; they are taking a short break and are off to the Israel Museum which is open late tonight.

We have dinner at the Lavan Café Restaurant at 11 Hebron Road, in the Cinematheque.  It is within easy walking distance of the Mt Zion Hotel, but also from the YMCA, King David and Citadel Hotels.  It has a menu of pastas, salads, pizzas and all breads are made on the premises.  In addition to good food and friendly service, it has big windows that face the Old City.   It is a great place to be at sunset!   We end up eating here a few times during our stay.

At dinner, I bring out my touchstone list to help decide if we should go to the Jerusalem of Gold concert tonight at the YMCA.  Before leaving home, I did one of the exercises in the "The Mindful Traveler", by Jim Currie and had selected these touchstones to refer to as needed, and this seems to be one of those times! Here they are:  I don't have to see and do everything on the list! 

Focus on what we are doing at the moment and live NOW. 
Be open - all senses and respond. 
Body and soul are on this trip. 
Be open to the unexpected and don't sweat the small stuff. 
Let the experiences and the images find me. 
Follow intuition and don't succumb to over planning and a tight rigid schedule. 
Stay rested and nurture my spirit. 
Practice breathing and self reflection, finding the emptiness between thoughts. 
Every state of mind, every choice and action engenders consequences. 
Listen to the voice of possibilities; only observe the voice of limitation.   
Harvey patiently listens as I read the list, looks at me, and says that I didn't have to go through all that...he was set, we need a night resting.  Yes, it was obvious, but I needed to be reminded "we don't have to see and do everything on the list!  Clearly we had not tuned in earlier to "stay rested and nurture spirit"!  Yes, two heads are sometimes better than one!  And as we have learned, sometimes two heads are not enough to know that you need rest.

We spend a quiet evening in room and go to sleep early.
 
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