One of the impactful memories of 2022 was my visit to Yad Vashem, a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust in Jerusalem, Israel. In December, First Lady Racelder and I joined an Indiana United Methodist group for what would be our eighth trip with Christian travelers to the Holy Land.
My wife and I have experienced the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum experience and have warned fellow travelers that it is not an easy place to visit. While it is not a fun experience, it is most certainly helpful and critically important to see what bigotry and hatred can lead to when it is ignored by too many people who do not see themselves as responsible.
While the Yad Vashem honors the lives and memory of Holocaust victims, it also details the history of Jewish people before and during the Holocaust with interactive historical displays that do not hide the crime or cruelty that resulted in the death of millions of Jewish people, including 1.5 million Jewish children who perished in the Holocaust.
There are always people who refuse to accept the suffering and death of others and choose to risk their lives to save others. The Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations on the grounds of the museum has over 2,000 trees planted in honor of non-Jews who risked their lives to rescue Jews from the Nazis.
I am fully aware that hate crimes and genocidal acts have been directed to many peoples of the world. Comparing tragic suffering is not the intent of this invitation to invest in building beloved community.
May we begin 2023 with a resolve to denounce hatred, and “othering” which can take the form of anti-semitism, as well as the targeting of persons or groups based on religion, race, sexual orientation, or country of origin.
As a Christian, I am celebrating Epiphany, the season of manifestation of Jesus to the world. I believe it is important for me to listen for the voice of the One we have called the “Prince of Peace” to turn toward the path that sees all people as sacred and worthy of love and respect (Romans 3:23).
We may live in different communities and have different histories and stories. My prayer is that we all claim our place on the avenue of the righteous and stand with those who are marginalized or targeted with hate and offer our own witness of courageous love.
“We may not all be equally guilty. But we are all equally responsible for building a decent and just society.” -Ruby Bridges
Bishop Julius C. Trimble
Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church