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Celebrating Tisha b'Av in the Judean Desert and Yad Vashem

Posted on 07/20/2010 @ 07:10 PM

Tags: PDI

PDI Israel

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by Anita Blustein, Lonestar Region Program Director

There are not many times in your life when you are able to be in complete silence but still feel completely connected to everyone around you. Today I got to have that experience as we headed to the Judean desert on Tisha b'Av to learn more about the Dead Sea Scrolls. We were able to hike up the mountainous desert that Israel is so well known for while taking a few minutes to individually sit and decipher what it meant to be surrounded by so much history. We took texts that discussed different views about the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were discovered in the past century and are thought of as the oldest physical documents we have that reference the destruction of the second temple. There is some debate about their authenticity and background, and I encourage you to continue researching on your own. It was definitely my favorite part of the day as I was able to see the Dead Sea on one side, rows of mountains on the horizons and friends all around.

We then continued on to Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust Museum and Memorial. Everything about the museum is intentional from the architecture of the building, to the sounds that you hear to the layout of the artifacts. The personal accounts in the museum are more powerful than anything you could find in a textbook. Our group didn't just tour the museum but took it one step further to analyze its purpose. Does Yad Vashem exist in Israel solely as educational remembrance of the Holocaust or does it exist to justify Israel's existence as a State? What is the role of Holocaust in modern Israel? Does Israel want the memory of the Holocaust to always be a part of its identity.

Overall, it was a meaningful way to observe Tisha b'Av by exploring the Jewish timeline from ancient to modern history.

Looking forward to tomorrow when we will study social Justice in Israel -- is Israel obligated to provide rights and citizenships to any who wish? What does it mean to be a Jewish state with thousands of refugees and foreign workers?

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