May 1st 2014
In the hills surrounding Jerusalem, amidst the Forest of the Martyrs in Moshav Kisalon, is a bronze monument that stands 26 feet high. Called the Scroll of Fire (Megilat ha-Esh in Hebrew), the monument is an epic sculpture created by Holocaust survivor and artist Nathan Rapoport.
Inaugurated in 1971, the central monument is shaped like two scrolls standing side-by-side, with two small memorial rooms between them. The scroll shapes echo the idea that the Jewish people are the People of the Book, since, in the days prior to the spine-bound books with which we are now familiar, all human wisdom, both sacred and ordinary, was recorded on scrolls. One of the twin scrolls is dedicated to the Holocaust and the other to the Independence of the Jewish State of Israel.
The scroll devoted to the Holocaust features images of Nazi helmets, people imprisoned behind concentration camp fences, Janusz Korczak and the children he gave his life to protect, a fighter from the Warsaw ghetto holding a grenade and other similar images. At the end of the Holocaust scroll is an image of survivors making aliyah (immigrating to Israel) and a particularly poignant image of a man kissing the ground once he arrives in the Land of Israel.
The second scroll is devoted to images and symbols of the Land of Israel such as a man standing at the Kotel (Western Wall) blowing shofar, olive trees, a young child with a cluster of grapes, Elijah the prophet, a circle of Israeli folk dancers dancing the hora and Israeli flags blowing gently in the wind. A central, prominent symbol here an image of the menorah from the Temple, similar to the one engraved in the Arch of Titus, which eventually inspired the official seal of the State of Israel.
You’re likely to find it worthwhile to spend some time closely examining the monument and identifying the many symbols which Rapoport engraved on the complementary scrolls, which holistically explore the Jewish people’s journey from destruction in the Diaspora to dream-like renewal in the homeland. Besides the Scroll of Fire memorial, the location offers a jaw-dropping scenic lookout. In addition, there are marked pathways for those who wish to hike through the forest. The Forest of the Martyrs is so named because it contains one tree for every one of the six million victims of the Holocaust.