What We Can Learn From Yad Vashem

by | Jul 30, 2009 | Israel, Standing With Israel

In the hills outside of Jerusalem, the Israelis have built a memorial to the greatest tragedy in Jewish history, the Holocaust. This memorial, called Yad Vashem, houses a large and graphic exhibition detailing the murder of 6 million Jews. This display achieves its intended effect: it is impossible to walk through it and not be burdened by the enormity of the crime that the Nazis and their henchmen committed against the Jewish people. Visitors exit the hall carrying a heavy weight.

Outside the museum, nestled in a wooded campus, Yad Vashem hosts a more uplifting memorial: the Garden of the Righteous Among Nations. Here, scattered among the trees, are plaques in honor of the thousands of non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. This part of Yad Vashem also impacts the visitor’s state of mind. A detailed display of the depths of human cruelty ends, in this garden, on a note of hope.

The Garden of the Righteous was not an afterthought. It is integral to Yad Vashem’s moral mission. The 1953 Israeli law that established Yad Vashem required that the museum also honor “the Righteous Among the Nations who risked their lives to save Jews.” Israel’s legislators understood that moral accounting must use a two-sided ledger. The moral clarity that required condemnation of the great evil of the Holocaust also demanded a tribute to the great good that somehow survived in its midst.

These Israelis were no doubt cognizant of the larger lesson that such a display would impart to visitors. After the Holocaust, the Jewish people could have succumbed to anguish and rage. They could have turned their backs on a Europe that had perpetrated upon them an atrocity of such proportions. But instead, the Jewish people chose life. They chose to remain engaged in the world and open to all who extended their hands in friendship. Israel’s founders chose to do the hard work of sorting friend from foe on the basis of individual-not group-attributes. By placing the Garden of the Righteous in between the museum of past atrocities and the exit, Yad Vashem subtly instructs its visitors toward this nobler path.

In building the Garden of the Righteous, the founders of Yad Vashem also embraced and communicated a second important principle. They decided that actions-not motivations-are the only relevant measure by which to judge righteousness. The Garden of Righteous does not discriminate on the basis of motivation. It honors all who saved Jews from the Holocaust no matter what led them to do so. The playboy Oskar Schindler is honored there. So are Christians who saved Jews out of a religious imperative. These Israelis understood that any motivation that could produce acts of love so brave is a priori of worthy motivation. They did not dare sit in judgment upon heroism so sublime.

Sadly, many in the American Jewish community have not followed the lead of their Israeli cousins. While they may visit Yad Vashem, they often miss its more subtle point.

During the 1970s, an English comedy troupe named Monty Python achieved fame in America through its successful television show. One of the show’s most popular sketches featured a trio of men clad in red cardinal ropes bursting into a modern-day business meeting and shouting, “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!” The Monty Python troupe had clearly never spent a lot of time with American Jews.

Many in the America Jewish community still harbor a deep suspicion of robust Christianity and its practitioners. Scratch the surface of a born-again Christian, they suspect, and beneath it you will find Torquemada.

The time has come for the American Jewish community to reassess their views of evangelical Christians in general and Christian Zionists in particular. American Jews must embrace the model of Yad Vashem and do the hard work of sorting people by their actions instead of their group affiliations. In judging these actions, they must have the humility to recognize acts of love and grace despite a lingering discomfort with the motives that produce them.

The Jewish community should go ahead and scratch the surface of some Christian Zionists. They will not find a Spanish inquisitor lurking beneath. Instead, they may very well find a righteous Gentile.

David Brog is the executive director of Christians United for Israel and author of Standing With Israel, from which this article is excerpted.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

How Divine Wrestling Changes Our Identity

How Divine Wrestling Changes Our Identity

All of us at some point will hit a place of getting the wind knocked out of us. We all experience unexpected detours and times when there seems to be no way out. But there is One who lives in us, the Lord Jesus Christ, who gives us the strength to overcome obstacles....

Spirit-Filled Pastor: How Does God Lead Us Today?

Spirit-Filled Pastor: How Does God Lead Us Today?

Whether it is the Spirit leading or forbidding in the book of Acts, or the Spirit leading throughout Christian history, it’s clear that the leading of the Spirit is important. In the Old Testament, it appears that the Spirit of God could be withdrawn completely from...

Joyce Meyer: Keys to Winning Your Race in Life

Joyce Meyer: Keys to Winning Your Race in Life

Everyone has a race to run. That just means we all have a life to live. The apostle Paul says in Hebrews 12:1 (NIV), “Therefore...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for...

Prophetic Word: The Lord Says, ‘I Am the Consuming Fire’

Prophetic Word: The Lord Says, ‘I Am the Consuming Fire’

God says that during this season, He is turning up the heat, finding the gold and bringing His refining fire. Job makes a powerful statement of faith as he says of the Lord, "When he has tried me, I shall come out as gold." God knew Job's heart and Job knew the heart...

What Is ‘The One Thing’ God Wants From You?

What Is ‘The One Thing’ God Wants From You?

In 1971, I was invited to spend one month in Singapore at a new institute that had been started by John Haggai. It was still in the formative stages then—a place where Asian church leaders would be trained and challenged to witness for Christ. Today, more than 40...

37 Prayers for the Suffering Persecuted Church

37 Prayers for the Suffering Persecuted Church

It was a Pentecost bloodbath and most Christians never heard about it. More than 50 Christians were killed in one of the deadliest terror attacks on Nigerians this year. Scores of gunmen rushed in to kill Christians in the midst of worship. All told, over 360 million...

RECENT ARTICLES

Prophecy: A Window of Time Has Opened for Believers to Preach the Truth

I was rejoicing and praising God on Friday, June 24, 2022, for the overturning of Roe v. Wade, knowing that an ungodly decree was overturned and one national curse was broken. I heard by the Holy...
The Man Who Spent 23 Minutes in Hell: The People I Saw in Hell

The Man Who Spent 23 Minutes in Hell: The People I Saw in Hell

In 1998, God gave me a life-changing vision of hell. I receive many questions about my experience from people all over the world, but one question I'm often asked is, "Who did you see in hell?" There are others who say they've had an experience like mine, and they...

The United States: Birthed in Prophetic Symbolism

The United States: Birthed in Prophetic Symbolism

One of the most amazing facts about the Founding Fathers of our nation is this: The one referred to as the "voice" of the revolution (John Adams) and the one referred to as the "pen" of the revolution (Thomas Jefferson) both died on the same day—July 4, 1826—exactly...

Why Did God Give ‘This’ to Me?

Why Did God Give ‘This’ to Me?

It’s a question I frequently hear. It’s one I’ve asked. And maybe it’s one you’ve asked, too. The question is, “God, why did You give this to me?” This can be any number of issues, from emotional or psychological struggles to symptoms or sicknesses, disabilities or...

No Evil Can Stop What God Has Planned

No Evil Can Stop What God Has Planned

I sense it. And I perceive a growing number of people in massive proportions sense the increasing momentum of power and might worldwide. Something is on the horizon—something more eerie and ominous than what the people of the world have ever before experienced. Even...

Pin It on Pinterest