Reflections from Anne Frank’s friend, a visit to Yad Vashem, and the fight for egalitarianism at the Western Wall

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Gary Pang, Varda Nauen and Rabbi Spilker protesting for for an egalitarian section of the Western Wall outside Prime Minister Netanyahu’s house.

Friday, June 30, 2017

By Ilona Rouda

A day in Jerusalem:  A delicious buffet breakfast followed by a delicious swim in a rooftop pool.  Words describing stories of Anne 

Frank were shared by her childhood friend, Chana Pik. Much was hard to hear but she also shared humor and insights.  As we drove to Yad Vashem, hollyhocks were visible in street plantings.  I have always thought of these flowers as part of childhood in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Yet they were flourishing here in Israel.  Connections!

 As we waited to enter Yad Vashem (where no photography is allowed),  we were surrounded by others from around the world. We were here 29 years ago and I remembered a room of small lights and darkness and silence with names of children who died in the Holocaust. 

As we did a prologue under a tree honoring the Righteous of the Nations, Bob realized this particular tree was honoring Andre and Magda Trocme of France, parents of Nellie Hewitt, a friend from St. Paul and a French teacher colleague at Blake School.  

There is a new museum with extensive photo and video essays.  I found myself averting my eyes.  It was so painful.  The chambers we moved through were overwhelmed by people all studying their history. The walk-through ends with a panorama of modern Israel.  Separate is the Children’s Museum. It still is a place that will remain with me. 

A restful afternoon prepared us for a very interesting service at a Reform Synagogue (Kehillat Kol Haneshema). There were many present.  Different melodies mixed with words.  It was a soothing and joyous service.  As the president of Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, was present, there was anticipation for his words.  He felt that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has brought a variety of Jewish groups together in protest against Netanyahu’s decision to suspend the plan for to provide a better space at the Western Wall for non-Orthodox men and women to worship together.  Tonight, Saturday, at 9:30 pm, is the protest at his home. 

A continuation of flowers found here: geranium, vinca,snap dragons, zinnias, tomato.   

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