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Before Easter/Passover, I was in Jerusalem and took in the World Holocaust Remembrance Center. It was among the most sober walks I have ever had to endure. The center is designed in such a way so as to make you feel as corralled and herded as the holocaust Jews being led to slaughter.

The Hall of Names

The outside does not reveal what is laid bare inside; room after relentless room I was shepherded through unspeakable pitiless stories of senseless loss. Near the end is a room of faces and records that ascend up into an unfinished cone; below descends a gaping hole, raw and dark. All I could do was to walk the unending circle, daring to look into every murdered face and repeatedly whisper, “I’m sorry…”

I reached the last room, impotent and exhausted. There in the dark hung a single violin strain as quotes of Jewish survivors were projected on the bare concrete wall.

Looking Forward and Upward

Coming out is a massive relief from the unending grief as you walk toward a cantilevered platform looking out into the beautiful valley of the “Jerusalem Forest”. The triangled structure of the museum opens up both – forward to look into the forest, and upward – as the roof gives way to the sky.

My silhouette: looking forward and upward

Six Million and One

The next day I took in the art exhibit, “Behold the Man” at the Israel Museum. I was particularly struck by Moshe Hoffman’s depiction of Christ.

Moshe Hoffman, “Six million and 1”, in “Behold the Man” exhibit.

Ruth Eglash of The Washington Post wrote, “Moshe Hoffman, a Hungarian Jew who survived the Holocaust, used his art to question Christianity’s role in the genocide. In one work, “Six million and 1,” Hoffman shows a Nazi guard attempting to pull Jesus from the cross to make him Jewish prisoner number 6,000,001.”

Indeed for the holocaust to happen, the German people of the times had to existentially pull Jesus (and his Jewishness) from the story of redemption – off from the cross –  in order to pull off this premeditated genocide. In some way, those leading Jesus to the gas chambers were those who claimed to be following Him. It is self-contradiction to the extreme.

And… doesn’t it seem as if He is looking at you? Is He looking for you to help? Doesn’t He look mystified that His crucifixion isn’t enough? The path narrows as you move along the site line to nihilism; it gives paradoxical meaning to Jesus’ words:

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

What do you see as you look into his eyes?

Here he is being pulled from one torture – to be totally identified with his brethren in holocaust of another torture. And He continues to suffer with the Jewish people and the rest of this genocidal world.

For God so loved this genocidal world that He holocaust His one and only Son that whoever trusts in Him should not die but gain eternal life – life that is in Him.

John 3:16 my paraphrase

This is more enigma than dogma…