When travelers ask about the must-see sights in Jerusalem, I insist that they make time for Yad Vashem - the Holocaust museum. As the museum is quite large, I suggest arriving in the morning and preparing for at least half a day there. Also, keep in mind that visiting this museum can often be a profound and emotional experience.
Yad Vashem is easily accessible from the Jerusalem city center via the light rail to Har Herzel station. From there follow the signs and take a short walk through the Forrest to the museum. There is also a free shuttle service from Mount Herzel junction during opening hours. The museum is open from Sunday to Friday and entrance is free.
Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum is one of the most important sites in Jerusalem and one that all travelers are urged to visit when in Israel. Originally established in 1953 and renewed in 2005, the museum serves as a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. It's not easy to confront this dark historical period but it is extremely valuable and is essential to understanding Israeli culture and history.
For many travelers, visiting the museum will be the first time that they truly grasp the impact of the Holocaust as Yad Vashem contains the largest collection of archives worldwide. Powerful exhibitions are offered in several languages and covey a thematic chronological narrative. The museum consists of several gripping memorials and is dedicated to the research and education of Holocaust studies. With the intention of educating locals and foreigners of the present and future generations, Yad Vashem facilitates a research institute, a library, a publishing house and an International School for Holocaust studies.
Comprehension of the holocaust is necessary to understand the influencing factors tied to the establishment of Israel. This history is taught extensively within Israel's education system and is ingrained in the culture. Each year Holocaust remembrance day is commemorated with an air raid siren in which the whole country stands in silence for 2 minutes in honor of the six million Jews who perished. The eerie sight of hundreds standing outside their cars on a motionless highway is deeply moving. The day continues with ceremonies that take place at schools, army bases and community centers across the country.
Yad Vashem is a prominent and inspiring museum. The exhibitions are evocative, engaging and use a variety of multimedia such as film, photography, original artifacts and personal possessions. The emphasis on preserving the name and memory of each victim makes the experience severely personal. The museum also aims to honor those who risked their lives to save Jewish people. Among the haunting backdrop of the Jerusalem Forest, Yad Vashem sits on the slope of Mount Herzel. The new museum is a triangular prism that slices through the landscape and leads to galleries that branch off the main hall. Surrounding the museum are outdoor commemorative monuments and sculptures, many that were designed by Holocaust survivors. The visit can be emotionally overwhelming but also reveals an empowering sense of hope and light.
About the writer, Taila Eskin: