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The B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL-JNF) held on May 6—for the 22nd consecutive year—a joint Holocaust commemoration ceremony on Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah). This is the only Yom HaShoah event dedicated annually to commemorating the heroism of Jews who rescued fellow Jews during the Holocaust.

The ceremony took place at the B’nai B’rith Martyrs Forest “Scroll of Fire” Plaza and was streamed live on the B’nai B’rith International Facebook page. The event was reported widely in Israel and abroad in print, online and broadcast media; some 800 people attended in person.

The B’nai B’rith Martyrs Forest is the world’s largest Holocaust memorial and the most significant joint B’nai B’rith–KKL-JNF project, memorializing 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. Prior to the event small groups met with relatives of the rescuers to learn about their heroic acts in greater depth.

Speakers at the ceremony were Ambassador Sergio Barbanti, ambassador of Italy to Israel; Aharon Bar, director of Pedagogy and Guidance, KKL-JNF; Haim Katz, chairman, B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem; Brigadier General Gihad Hasan, police border guard; and Sarah Jackson, Holocaust survivor who rescued young people from the Nova festival on Oct. 7 (recorded).

Barbanti said, “the ferocious anti-Semitic massacre of October 7 represented the darkest page for the people of Israel since its foundation [and] was the image of a terrible replica of the horrors of the Shoah. Anti-Semitism is not just a scourge to be fought and eradicated as such, but rather a threat to our democratic values.”

Katz told the gathering, “The truth is that Jews did not go like sheep to the slaughter. Up against a destruction machine unlike anything the world had seen, they fought fiercely not just to save themselves, but to save their brothers and sisters, many times risking their lives and sometimes paying a price with their lives.”

Hasan invoked the recent Passover holiday in an assertion that Isael deals with existential threats “in every generation, in every period. The intention of our enemies has not changed, but our ability has. Our enemies stand up against strong and firm security forces that defend its civilians’ lives, security and the State of Israel at any coast.”

Bar—who left his son Amit’s hospital bedside for the first time since he was seriously wounded fighting in Gaza four months ago—said that the horrors perpetrated by the human animals on Oct. 7 were reminiscent of dark days we thought would not return. “Unlike then, today we have a state, an army and a defense force that can repel the attack and fight” terrorists to protect our people in their homeland.

Holocaust survivor Jackson said she did not feel she did anything special. “I hope that all Jews will reach more positive conclusions and connect to the more positive aspects of this country. I hope that we will be worthy of having no wars and of raising our children to perform good deeds and not wars.”

During the ceremony, the Jewish Rescuers Citation was conferred on 13 rescuers who operated in France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Italy and Poland. The citation—a joint program of the B’nai B’rith World Center and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers during the Holocaust—has recognized more than 632 heroes since its inception in 2011 in an effort to help correct the generally held misconception that Jews failed to come to the aid of fellow Jews during the Holocaust.

The phenomena of Jewish rescue and the instructive stories of many hundreds of Jews who labored to save their endangered brethren throughout Europe from deportation and murder remains under researched and lacks the recognition it deserves in both public and academic spheres. Many who could have tried to flee or hide themselves decided to stay, thereby exposing themselves to danger in an effort to rescue others; some paid for it with their lives.

With great heroism, Jews in Germany and every country across Axis and 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 haven. In doing so, they foiled the Nazi goal of total annihilation of the Jews.

Recipients of the citation:

1. Dr. Vittorio Emanuele Sacerdoti (1915-2000, Italy) contrived a disease—”Syndrome K”—to keep the SS away from Jews hiding at a hospital in Rome.

2. Harry Roth (1915, Slovakia-1998, U.S.A.) impersonated an employee of the Slovak embassy in Prague and issued travel permits to Jews, allowing them to escape to safety.

 3. Dr. Alexander Herman (1913, Austria-1975, Czechoslovakia), doctor and prisoner at Theresienstadt, Birkenau and Taucha who hid the severity of prisoners’ illnesses, contributing to their survival.

 4. Jakob Silberstein (1921, Poland-2021, Israel), prisoner at Buchenwald and Auschwitz; planned revolt as a member of “Kampfgruppe Auschwitz” and transferred explosives to the underground.

5. Yitzhak Philipp (1906, Germany-1994, Israel), boxer and prisoner in Auschwitz who distributed food to prisoners in the camp and endangered his life to provide water to detainees in the evacuation train.

 6. Frédéric Chimon (‘Chameau’) Hammel (1907, France- 2001, Israel) founded with Robert Gamzon the “Jewish Scouts ” in France; hid young people at the agriculture training center he founded and supplied them with false documents.

 7. Jeanne Sarah (‘Fourmi’) Hammel (1907, France-2002, Israel), active with the Jewish Resistance in France and with “L’association protestante Protection des familles du pasteur Jacques Bost.” Helped Jewish parents and their children avoid detention and deportation.

 8. Dr. Siegfried Gumbel (1874, Germany-1942, Dachau), community leader in Baden-Württemberg, head of the Bar Association and president of the B’nai B’rith Lodge; fought anti-Semitism, encouraged Aliyah and returned to Germany from Switzerland to continue his work.

9. Artur Poznanski (1912, Germany-1998, Israel), merchant and social worker. He returned to Germany after escorting groups of young Jews to Denmark and Sweden; was deported to Auschwitz and saved Jews as a medical clinic worker while endangering his own life.

10. Georges (Grégoire) Garel (1909, Lithuania-1979, France), a member of the Jewish Resistance in France. He established the “Garel Network” that found hiding places for children.

11. Elise Lazarine Garel (1921-2014, France), a member of the Jewish Resistance in France who assisted in finding hiding places for Jews as a member of the “Garel Network.”

 12. Victor Chaï (Young) Perez (1911, Tunisia-1945, Auschwitz Death March), a boxer and prisoner in Auschwitz; smuggled food to prisoners, contributing to their survival.

 13. Josef “Jupp” Weiss (1893, Germany-1976, Israel), businessman and member of B’nai B’rith. In Bergen-Belsen, he served as Jewish Elder, established work groups for easy tasks to allow the survival of sick and elderly and forged death lists to obtain extra food and water, contributing to the survival of fellow prisoners.

Click here to read more about recipients of this year’s Jewish Rescuers Citation.

Click here to watch the ceremony in English.

The ceremony ended with the reading of 50 names of Italian Holocaust victims from among the 8,000 Italian Jews who perished in the Holocaust, followed by Yizkor, El Malai Rachamim, Kaddish and the national anthem.


Alan Schneider, Director, B’nai B’rith World Center +972-52-5536441

Golan Yossifon, Spokesman +972-52-5625135