Day 4: A Day of Reflection by Sydney Kaiser

With hats on our heads and three liters of water in our bags, we loaded onto the bus and awaited our second day in Jerusalem. Today, however, was very different from yesterday. Yesterday, we admired the Kotel and the old city, but today we learned how and why those sites, as well as Israel itself, should not be taken for granted. We first arrived at Yad Vashem and toured the museum as well as the children’s memorial. We saw videos, artifacts, and testimonials which we can now use to piece together our understanding of the time before, during, and after the Holocaust. With enlightened perspectives, we can now pass on the story of the Holocaust so we as a people will never forget. After breaking for lunch on a hill in the shade, we walked to Mt.Hertzel to remember the fallen soldiers of the IDF. Again, we listened to personal stories of brave soldiers who lost their lives so that we could be standing where we were today. I will never forget witnessing an IDF soldier standing over a grave with tears swelling in her eyes as she carefully brushed a stray branch off of the top of the tomb. It was as if she was saying that she still cared about that soldier and wants his/her legacy to be honored. Shortly after Mt.Hertzel, we walked through the Hertzel museum commemorating Theodore Hertzel, the “father of the state of Israel.” Today was a solemn day but it was incredibly humbling to realize that despite all of the hardship and sacrifice the Jewish people have faced, we are still here and stronger than we have ever been.