Holy Land Pilgrimage

A Monument and a Name – Yad Vashem

January 29, 2020

Today my classmates and I visited Yad Vashem, which is Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. The museum chronicles the events and actions taken against the Jews at the hands of Nazi Germany. To say that this experience was an emotional one would be an understatement. Seeing photos and videos of what the Jewish people suffered because of discrimination, propaganda, and state-sanctioned extermination is not something that will ever be forgotten.

Derek Hooper (Diocese of Jefferson City, MO) praying at the Grotto of the Nativity.

I remember as a young teenager watching Schindler’s List wondering how such atrocities could happen on such a large scale. Leaving the museum that same bewilderment came back, yet I now have a better understanding both from what I experienced in the museum and from our study in the seminary. Hitler and the Nazi Party created a highly effective propaganda machine that kept the common folks from seeing the human dignity inherent in the Jewish people. The government also took small steps, at first, that discriminated and made life slightly difficult for the people. Many Jews within the boundaries of Germany saw the writing on the walls and left. It wasn’t until the Nazis began invading other countries, especially those of Eastern Europe, where the Jews were systematically imprisoned and executed on a large scale.

By the time of the “Final Solution,” the common folk and the invaded countries had seen so much propaganda that they became fearful of the Jews, which made rounding them up easier.  This loss of awareness of the human dignity of the Jews is truly tragic.  We all are created by God and are loved by Him. Through the fall of Adam and Eve, we live in a darkened perspective, which can make us blind to the other’s divine spark. Let us continually examine our own lives, so that we live in the Peace of Christ, and then have the strength to spread that peace to others by the example of our life.

Derek Hooper
Diocese of Jefferson City, MO

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