I should not be at Brant Lake. I love living in the Adirondacks but I should not be here now. I was scheduled to lead a group of visitors to Israel. Not to Brant Lake! Instead I am hibernating in the North Country and attempting to evade the coronavirus. I am sitting outside at Brant Lake watching a loon dive for a fish. I am also taking a virtual trip to Israel since I cannot be there in person. This morning I chose to travel outside Jerusalem for a visit to Yad Vashem, a memorial to the Holocaust.
The contemporary building embraces many acres but I remember a much smaller Yad Vashem that stood in the city in the 1950s. The original Yad Vashem was a simple Quonset hut with several walls of pictures of the atrocities that engulfed Europe. That early version of Yad Vashem was only a microcosm of the building that stands today.
In the entranceway of that early version of Yad Vashem there was a black and white picture of Anne Frank, whose diary presented a picture of a young girl hiding in Amsterdam during the Holocaust. She was a typical teenager with a story that was not typical. Beneath the picture, which covered the majority of the space over the entranceway, was a single sentence written in Hebrew. The translation of that sentence reads: “A world that was and is no more.”
”A world that was and it is no more.” The demolished world of the Jewish community, especially in Europe. As I remember those words and the picture I look out at the gentle waves lapping the shore of Brant Lake and I wonder what has happened to my world, the global world of 2020, as a result of Covid-19? Will we ever return to the world we once thought of as normal? Has that world disappeared? Forever?
What will happen? We can only wait and see.