The B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL-JNF) will hold for the 16th consecutive year, a unique joint Holocaust commemoration ceremony on Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah, Thursday, April 12). This is the only event dedicated annually to commemorating the heroism of Jews who rescued fellow Jews during the Holocaust. The Border Patrol training base will provide an honor guard, and Jerusalem-area schools and pre-army preparatory academies will attend the ceremony together with Jewish rescuers and survivors. The ceremony will take place at the B’nai B’rith Martyr’s Forest “Scroll of Fire” Plaza at 10:00 a.m. Israel time.
Participants in the ceremony will be: Fanny Ben-Ami, heroine of the book "The Little Commander"(1986) and the movie "Fanny's Story" (2017); Ambassador Helen Le Gal, ambassador of France to Israel; Tsilla Hershco, author of "Those Who Walk in Darkness Will See Light: The Jewish French Resistance During the Holocaust and the Creation of Israel 1940-1949" and Haim V. Katz, chairman of the B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem. A representative from KKL-JNF will also speak at the ceremony.
This year, the ceremony will be dedicated to the rescue efforts of the Jewish Resistance in France that operated from the occupation of France in June 1940 until the defeat of German forces there in September 1944. Each of the networks was established as an independent entity, but collaborated in various activities and often shared members. These networks saved the lives of thousands of adults and children, employing various methods such as issuing false documentations, smuggling Jews to Switzerland and Spain and formulating guerrilla groups in the cities and partisans groups in the south of France. These networks united under one umbrella organization — Organisation Juive de Combat-OJC.
Hundreds of members of the organization participated in battles to free France after the Normandy invasion and were decorated after the war by the French authorities as members of an organization who fought the Nazis. About 76,000 Jews — a quarter of French Jewry at the time — were murdered during the Holocaust, their names are memorialized on the "Wall of Deceased" at the Mémorial de la Shoah, which is located in Paris. This Jewish resistance networks had a significant part in the rescue of the remaining three-quarters but paid a high price — about 200 members were killed during those activities. The Organisation Juive de Combat-OJC included the following Jewish resistance movements: Armée Juive (A.J.), Jewish Scouts, the Zionist youth movement, OSE-Garel, the Rabbis of the Camps, Amelot Street Committee, Andre group, Moussa Abadi group and the Dutch group.
After the war many of the members of the Jewish resistance in France contributed to the creation of the State of Israel. They joined the Haganah, helped develop a foundation for Israeli diplomatic activities in France, facilitated the illegal immigration to Israel, purchased weapons for what would become the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), engaged in clandestine radio transmission between Europe and pre-state Israel, created connections with the French government and arranged for military recruitment and training for the IDF in France. Many members made aliyah and participated in the War of Independence.
During the ceremony, a Jewish Rescuers Citation will be conferred on Fanny Ben-Ami by the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust (JRJ) and the B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem and posthumously on some 20 other rescuers who were active in France, Holland, Italy, Belarus and Poland. Since the establishment of the Jewish Rescuers Citation in 2011, nearly 200 heroes have been honored for rescue activities in Germany, France, Hungary, Greece, Slovakia, Yugoslavia, Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Italy and Holland.
The Martyr’s Forest is the largest joint B’nai B’rith and KKL-JNF project, which memorializes the victims of the Holocaust with six million trees planted in the picturesque Jerusalem mountains near Moshav Kesalon. At the pinnacle of the forest stands the “Scroll of Fire,” created by renowned sculptor Nathan Rapoport, which invokes the destruction of the Jewish people in the Holocaust and their redemption in the State of Israel. The event will commence with personal testimonies by Holocaust survivors to classes of soldiers and students.
The phenomena of Jewish rescue and the instructive stories of thousands of Jews who labored to save their endangered brethren throughout Europe is a vital, yet under-recognized story. Many who had the opportunity to flee chose to stay and rescue others; some paid for it with their lives. With great heroism, Jews in every country in occupied Europe employed subterfuge, forgery, smuggling, concealment and other methods to ensure that Jews survived the Holocaust, or assisted them in escaping to a safe heaven, and in doing so foiled the Nazi goal of total genocide against the Jews. The organizers of the ceremony view it as especially important to expose Jewish youth to these narratives as a model for Jewish solidarity and courage.
9:00-9:30 a.m. Personal testimonies by Holocaust survivors to soldiers in the Forest
9:45 a.m. Coalesce in “Scroll of Fire” Plaza
10:00 a.m. Siren peal and ceremony commencement
11:00 a.m. Ceremony conclusion
11:00-11:30 a.m. Personal testimonies by Holocaust survivors to students in the Forest
For interviews with Tsilla Hershco, author of "Those Who Walk in Darkness Will See Light: The Jewish French Resistance During the Holocaust and the Creation of Israel 1940-1949" please contact Herscho directly at 052-6222394
For all other interviews please contact B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem Director Alan Schneider at 052-5536441 or firstname.lastname@example.org