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T5/6 Israel: Yad Vashem
Hello from the bus between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Snippets of the conversation happening amongst the dozen of us include WSJ editor-in-chief being ousted, the farce that is Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s texting scandal, the self-immolation of the Libertarian Party, and whether the guy yesterday extolling his circumcision was weird or very weird.
We have been to many places and met many people, including journalist and author Matti Friedman, whose Spies of No Country is currently in my purse and which I highly recommend. Friedman spoke to our journo squad a few nights ago, including about the negative image of Israel projected by many in the media, one that “grows increasingly negative as the ideological landscape of the West becomes more polarized and inflamed, keener to split the world into categories of good and evil, and as too many mainstream journalists abandon old ideals such as objectivity for the idea that journalism is a tool to effect social change,” as he wrote last year in Sapir. People who demand we break the world into good and evil, examining why they do and its effects, is for me the forever story.
We walked into one of these stories, the largest of the 20th century, yesterday when we visited Yad Vashem: World Holocaust Center. I was amazed to be allowed to see this and to be there, from the moment we walked in to our final engagement. Come with me.
We then met with With Rena Quint, who told us the story of surviving two concentration camps from ages 3 to 9, being passed along to six different mothers (after her own mother’s extermination), winding up at age 10 in Brooklyn, having a beautiful 63-year marriage (“always hold hands”), living for decades in Israel and telling her story at Yad Vashem, and also, that when we have time we come for dinner and I can bake in her kitchen. Was her story devastating and am I crying now remembering? Yes, of course. But this woman was also bright and funny, laughing and saying, “It’s all for the good” when a few members of our group looked up on Zillow the home in Park Slope she sold in the 80s for for $200,000 and found it recently went for more than four million. She told us to live, to be good to one other, to cherish love.