JERUSALEM – The mood of Governor Deval Patrick’s trade mission to Israel shifted considerably this afternoon as the delegates departed from business and government meetings to tour Israel’s Holocaust memorial and museum, Yad Vashem, on a cold and rainy Israeli day.
None was unmoved and many were crying as they walked through a candlelit hall bearing the names, ages, and hometowns of children who died in the Holocaust or, inside a dome, looked around at the seemingly endless bound volumes with the names of 4 million dead.
Many declined to eat lunch when the tour ended.
Patrick was mostly silent as he passed through a large vat of shoes collected from victims and as he glanced at Nazi propaganda and a film showing the mass burial of Holocaust victims.
He asked occasional questions of tour guide Edna Wilchfort, the child of two survivors.
Patrick paused when he came to a display featuring 17 prominent German Jews who were forced from Gemany before the Nazis opened their extermination camps.
Next to the names Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud was Max Reinhardt, an actor and director whose son, a federal judge in California, served as an early mentor to Patrick.
Patrick performed several rituals at the museum on behalf of Massachusetts residents, a tradition for American political leaders.
In a damp room partially unprotected from the elements called “the Hall of Remembrance,” Patrick relit the eternal flame, and laid down a wreath made of orange and white flowers, then stood in silence.
After another walk through wind and rain, he inscribed a guest book: “Thank you for this magnificent reminder of the triumph of the human spirit and the necessity that each of us see our stake in one another. Deval Patrick, governor, on behalf of the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”
Shai Bazak, consul general of Israel for New England, was especially emotional as he walked through with the governor.
“This is too much,” he said. “You come every few years and you think you’ve seen it all.”
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