B’nai B’rith World Center and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust to Fete 20 Jewish Rescuers on Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day
(Jerusalem, April 20, 2020)--The B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust will hold a Zoom meeting on Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah, Tuesday, April 21) to extol the heroism of some 20 Jews who endangered themselves during the Holocaust to rescue fellow Jews. Relatives and representatives of the now-deceased rescuers will address the meeting, and the Jewish Rescuers Citation – a joint project of the World Center and the Committee – will be conferred virtually on them. The event will be carried live on B’nai B’rith’s Facebook page and will primarily be in Hebrew, with some English.
The rescuers include:
The Zoom meeting represents a break from the traditional annual ceremony held by the World Center and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL-JNF) for the past 17 consecutive years in the B’nai B’rith Martyrs Forest. It is the only event dedicated annually to commemorating the heroism of Jews who rescued fellow Jews during the Holocaust.
Since the establishment of the Jewish Rescuers Citation in 2011, 314 heroes have been honored for rescue activities in Germany, France, Hungary, Greece, Slovakia, Yugoslavia, Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Italy, Holland and Belgium.
One of the most recent recipients of the Jewish Rescuers Citation, Frida Wattenberg, a member of the Jewish underground in Grenoble, France, during the Holocaust, contracted coronavirus and died in Paris on April 3, just three weeks shy of her 96th birthday. The citation was conferred on Sept. 23, 2019, at the Fondation de Rothschild seniors’ home where she resided. Tsilla Hershco, the author of the most authoritative book to date on the Jewish underground movement in France and a member of the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust, conferred the citation.
The phenomena of Jewish rescue and the instructive stories of thousands of Jews who labored to save their endangered brethren throughout Europe have yet to receive appropriate public recognition and resonance. Many who could have tried to flee preferred 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 safe havens, and in doing so foiled the Nazi goal of total genocide against the Jews.
The B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust produced a 32-booklet on Jewish rescue in advance of Yom Hashoah (Hebrew only). Yad Vashem – the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Israel – has adopted Jewish rescue as the official theme of this year’s Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day under the title Rescue by Jews during the Holocaust - Solidarity in a Disintegrating World. Materials produced by Yad Vashem for the occasion can be seen here (English) and here (Hebrew).
Interviews with the last surviving Jewish rescuers in Israel, David Gur (Hungary) and Eliezer Lev Zion (France), can be arranged with prior notice.
Please contact Alan Schneider, director, B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem for further details - +972-52-5536441
B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community. Visit www.bnaibrith.org.