It is considered the premier museum for the preservation of items from the Holocaust. In addition to the main museum, there is a separate memorial located in another building—the Children's Memorial. This memorial consists of one room. It is a large, dark room with points of light flashing all around on the ceiling and the walls.
As you stand and look at the lights, a voice reads the names of the children. You also see their pictures flashed on the wall off to the side. Even after walking through the main museum, nothing prepares you for the Children's Memorial. You cannot help but weep for the innocent children who died in the Nazi death camps simply because they were Jewish.
Yad Vashem loosely means "memorial (or remembrance) of names" and is taken from Isaiah 56:5: "Unto them will I give in my house and within my walls a memorial [yad]... an everlasting name [shem] that shall not be cut off" (American Standard Version). The modern nation of Israel has vowed to never forget those who died during the Nazi reign. Yad Vashem is extremely effective when you walk through and look at all the exhibits. It is an experience that you will never forget.
But the most haunting part of a visit to Yad Vashem is the Children's Memorial. There are only a few pictures and none of the real-life exhibits that exist in the main museum. That dark room with all those tiny points of light made more of an impression on me than the actual footage of bodies being bulldozed into a mass grave.
Don't get me wrong—the film footage was graphic and those images are hard to remove from your mind. But small lights flickering all around you in a dark room gives a powerful testimony without words and without pictures. It forces you to imagine all those children, laughing and playing and then ruthlessly killed. It was effective!
The apostle Paul uses this concept in Philippians 2:15: "...become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world."
The Greek word for "lights" is phostare. It means "illuminator" or it can mean "luminary" or even "stars." It struck me after my recent trip to the Middle East that God sees all of us as points of light or stars shining out of the darkness.
These children were special simply because they were children. Young children exude enthusiasm and light. No wonder Christ compared conversion to becoming childlike.
The Holocaust doused this light for 1.5 million children. Satan would like nothing more than to douse our light so that we would no longer be lights shining in a darkened world. He does his best to wear us down and make us weary of well doing.
The goal of Yad Vashem is to memorialize the names of those who died. The goal of each Christian is to shine as lights in the world, with the goal that God will remember us in the day of visitation when His Son returns in all the glory of the Kingdom of God. The Children's Memorial's 1.5 million flickering lights are an effective display. Thousands of Christians shining as "lights in the world" are no doubt just as effective to God! UN
Jim Franks is Ministerial Services operation manager.