Last month, while visiting Amsterdam to meet my granddaughter, Aden, I spent a day expoloring the city on foot. At one point as I walked, I came upon this memorial and took the above photos. As I walked the labyrinth, I was taken by a few things.
One was the rectangular bricks each printed with a name, a day and an age. Name after name after name after name. Later I researched and learned there were 102, 000 names in otal plus 1,000 empty bricks to honor unknown victims. I also learned that during the time of WWII, there were only 140,000 Jews in the Netherlands. As I read the names on each brink, I noticed the same last name across many bricks. I inferred WWII affected entire Dutch Jewish families. So many people of all ages. It started to take my breath away.
The shape of the memorial had me wondering why? Then, I discovered, after researching HERE at the designer’s website that the two meter high walls were in the shape of four Hebrew letters spelling לזכר which means “In Memory of”. Visitors literally walk in the shape of and in memory of these named Dutch Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
Then I noticed the mirrors added across the top. I was taken by this because as I looked up, I saw myself reflected in the mirror. I am here and the names in front of me are not. The mirrors also reflected the sky above and the nature around, like the budding cherry tree. Lifting my eyes toward heaven, I was taken by seeing myself honoring these lost Dutch men, women and children and also felt a bit of comfort in the natural world being reflected. Life goes on and here we pause to remember.
Yesterday, I met up with a friend who is Jewish and she shared how her oldest grandson just celebrated his bar mitzvah. Such pride as she shared the particiulars of this celebration. I also reread Stacey’s slice about her daughter’s bat mitzvah. She shared many reasons why reading hebrew is such a challenge. And I looked again at these photos I took 3000 miles away of a sacred space created to remember those who did live 75 years ago. But then an evil war took their lives, just because of their chosen way to worship.
Read more about the memorial which opened on 9/15/2021 HERE.