JCC MKE Israel Blog
Jerusalem to Tel Aviv
History isn’t singular; no more than memories are infallible. Perspectives diverge and overlap, victims become victors, and the stories we tell beyond what simply happened - they share that what we wish to see.
Starting the morning in Jerusalem, the Milwaukee delegation spent an hour in learning with acclaimed Israeli educator Rachel Korazim, who prepared the group for their morning visit to the Israeli Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem. With a sweeping combination of both history and context, Rachel shined a light on the complex relationship between the State of Israel and the Holocaust.
“Israel didn’t happen because of the Shoah, it happens in spite of it,” she said. “The Holocaust doesn’t change, thank god - it was horrible enough. We’ve changed. Stuff changes. We have a different perspective on who we are.”
Outside Yad Vashem, Gan Ami Early Childhood Education’s Lisa Kulakow led the group in a conversation about memory, sharing her own experiences with the power of the past and how it informs her present. “Sometimes memories lift you up, sometimes they hold us down.”
The staff family discussed their own memories, and how their professional journeys have formed the leaders they are today. Recreation and Aquatics Director Jess Lanke told the group, “Going through a horrible time in the past helps me appreciate exactly where I am right now.”
With that lens, the team entered the museum for a guided tour. From the political uprising, to the Polish ghettos, to the incredible tragedy and heroic struggles of too many individuals - it was a solemn and moving process. Together, the delegation grappled with this horrific attack against a people, their ideals, and their humanity.
There’s not enough time in the day to honor the enormity of Yad Vashem - there are not enough hours in a lifetime to do it the justice it deserves. But the effort never ends; instead the world insists on saving time to remember, to never forget, to always live.
After a stop for reflection and lunch, the team travelled back to the start of their Israel journey - Tel Aviv. There, the past meets the future with a vibrant energy that affirms the undeniable resiliency of this land. They shared dinner at BlackOut Restaurant, where patrons eat in total darkness, with a goal of appreciating and navigating a life without access to all senses. It was a moving and timely evening, and a note-perfect gathering for a team deep in experential learning.
On a day where memory and history converged in powerful ways, the team closed a day beginning in the Old City and ending in the New. At each turn, they were reminded that you don’t ever leave your memories behind you, you bring them with wherever you’re going. And that we all have the power inside us to close our eyes and not feel just darkness - but to instead embrace the space to feel, remember, and move forward.