I've been to Yad Vashem once before. It was on my birthright trip three years ago, and it was only a little over a month since my beloved Grandma, a"h, passed away. The timing of the visit to Yad Vashem probably could not have been much worse. Still coming to terms with losing the most important person in my world, I was suddenly faced with photos and mementos that recalled the stories of Nazi Germany that I grew up hearing. It made me even more vividly aware that I would never again hear her tell me those stories, and that she was another part of the Shoah that was gone forever. Another memory, left to others to carry on. I was a complete emotional mess, and it was one of the more horrible experiences of my life.
A few days ago, I found myself in a conversation about Yad Vashem, and I said that I wasn't ready to go back yet. Someday, I said. I think it's wrong to stay away forever. But not yet. Not for me.
Tomorrow, we're being taken on a tiyul (ie, field trip) to Yerushalayim. "Yay!" you might be thinking. After all, why would anyone not want to go to Yerushalayim? They might not want to go if the tiyul is starting off with a visit to Yad Vashem. The thought of going back just pulls up all of my memories from my first trip. It makes my grief over my grandmother feel as fresh and as raw as it was three years ago. But I can't not go. It seems disrespectful to my grandmother, and to every other Jew whose life was destroyed or uprooted by the Shoah, to avoid going back simply because it's painful. It's supposed to be painful.
That said, I'd rather be working in the kitchen tomorrow, shoving kishke up the tuchas of a dead chicken. I'd even rather be stuffing it up the tuchas of a live one.