The past few days have been even more physically and especially emotionally exhausting: we learned about the Shoah, the Holocaust. Since I had spent 10 years in Jewish day school, I had honored Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Memorial Day, for 10 years. Almost every year at school we had a guest speaker come in who had either survived the concentration camps or had family who had survived them or lived through them. I was guessing to go through these few days of learning about the tragedy like every other time I learned about it: sad about it but numb. This time, though, it was a different experience. At first it started the same way as every other time, first we learned about what happened at the end of World War I and how Germany was so desperate for a strong leader. Hitler was the one they wanted and his power soon took over not only Germany but all of Europe. It was a typical class with lots of note taking on important dates and figures. Then we watched the movie Defiance. Its a fairly recent movie and has big shot actors like Daniel Craig so I was expecting a movie that would be one of two things: a) extremely boring and definitely putting me to sleep or b) extremely boring due to the lack of acting and focus on action scenes. Luckily I was not right with either guess. Instead I watched a movie that was interesting and action-filled, yet tremendously moving and inspirational. Few people know that when Jews were being shipped off to Ghettos and camps that some Jews decided to fight back. This movie showed the story of a group of brothers who hid out in the forrest and made a “village” of Jews to help them fight against the Nazis and stay safe until the end of the war. 1,200 were saved this way by these brothers alone. The next day we took a 2 hour bus ride up North where we visited Kibbutz Lochame HaGhettaot, the Kibbutz of the Ghetto Fighters. This Kibbutz was founded by a couple of Holocaust survivors who moved to Israel after the war and started a Kibbutz. Here there is a museum dedicated to those Jews who fought against the Nazis during the War. We then went to the beach in Caesarea. There we learned about Hannah Senesh who is quickly becoming one of my biggest heros. Hannah Senesh came from a rich, assimilated family in Budapest, Hungary. After being kicked out of her school for being Jewish she decided to become religious and find out why she was Jewish at all. After her becoming in touch with her Judaism she moved to Israel where she became a member of a Kibbutz. When she found out about the War and the danger to the Jews she became frightened for her mother’s safety, who still lived in Hungary. She decided to risk her life and join the paratroopers who where going to Europe in order to save Jewish pilots. The nazis caught her and put her in Jail where they later killed her. Before her murder, though, she wrote beautiful poetry about life inside and outside of jail. As someone who also uses writing to release feeling and express myself, I find it even more amazing that a young woman no older than my cousin’s Sarah’s age, could write so wisely and live so selflessly in the end. Tuesday night we had a speaker come and talk to us. His name is Noah, and is the most famous journalist in Israel. He is the Thomas Friedman of Israel. Not only is he an amazing writer, but he is, like Hannah Senesh, an incredible hero. He has a tattoo on his left forearm. Not of today’s common dragons or Chinese characters, of numbers that the Nazis at Auschwitz thought fit his personality better than his own name. Noah’s story is incredible. He was a young man when he pretended to be a boxer in the concentration camps. There was a Nazi Sargent who enjoyed watching boxing, so they had prisoners box each other and got an extra ration of food. Noah did not box but said he did, and because of this was able to survive The Shoah. Noah was also a crew member of the famous Exodus boat, which brought in Jewish immigrants in secretly after WWII. The British did not want to host the Jews but they had no home and this was one of the many boats that tried to bring the Jewish people home. Yesterday we went to Yad VaShem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. Though I would love to write about the entire museum it would be an impossible task. There is one part I can write about and that is the children’s memorial. The memorial commemorates the 1.5 million child victims of the Holocaust. It is a dark room with a single lit candle in the middle, but if you didn’t know it was just one candle you would think it was hundreds of candles, because the one flame is surrounded by mirrors and mirrors. It shows that one of those children who were killed were not only killed with a million of their peers, but their ambitions and future generations were killed along with them. When I started thinking of what it would mean to me, I thought of each flame as a friend I have; my best friends, my cousins, my acquaintances, the kids I see walking around campus. Even if they weren’t all killed in the Holocaust, if I had lived at that time I would have been dead and therefore it would of been like they were all dead to me. I can’t imagine what gives Holocaust survivors the strength to continue living, but after learning about the Holocaust more today I gained even more respect and appreciation for them. I love being Jewish and by standing here, in the land of Israel as a Jewish teen of a new generation it shows the world that no one and nothing, not even killing 6 million of us, will stop us from being who we are and loving who we are.