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Holocaust! The Rightous Gentiles!

"Lest We Forget"

This past week was Holocasut Memorial Day in Israel. Paying homage to six million murdered Jewish brethen is particularly painful here in Israel. Many of us lost friends and family. This is a nation where the constant fear of destruction has been an ongoing part of our lives for sixty-four years. Yet, we gratefully remember those non-Jews who helped us during our darkest days and support us in our current struggle to survive.

It is generally believed that six million Jews perished as a result of Nazi genocide. Hundreds of thousands of others would have joined them were it not for the courageous intervention of a few world leaders and thousands of individuals who risked their lives in order to save Jews from the gas chambers. Many of these men and women paid for their heroic efforts with their lives. There were those who stood up and fought for justice.

Those who resisted the Gestapo during the infamous round-ups and hid Jews did so at grave personal peril. Any person caught hiding a Jew was immediately shot on the spot or taken out to be publicly hanged.

Those non-Jews who worked at great risk to their personal safety to save Jews became known as the “Righteous Persons” (or sometimes Righteous Gentiles). There are thousands of stories of great valor which will never be told because the Nazis executed many of these Righteous Persons. Among those whose stories one of the most celebrated is that of Raoul Wallenberg.

Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat who made it a special, personal mission to help save the Jews of Hungary. More than 30,000 Jews received special Swedish passports from Wallenberg. He set up "safe houses," distributed food and medical supplies, and virtually single-handedly set up a bureaucracy in Budapest, Hungary's capital, designed to protect Jews. More than 90,000 Budapest Jews were deported to the death camps and murdered, and Wallenberg's efforts may have reduced the number of those murdered by half. As a diplomat, he successfully confronted the Nazis at great risk to his own safety. Following the "liberation" of Budapest by the Soviets, he was arrested by them, thrown in prison, and never heard from again. Reports often surface, unconfirmed, that he is still alive, although the Soviets announced his death two years after his arrest.

I immigrated to Israel five years ago from Colorado. My greatest blessings in Israel have come as the result of interfaith activities in Haifa, my new home. I have participated in Soccer leagues with our Muslim neighbors in Israel. My Synagogue, Or Hadash has hosted an interfaith choir with Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Druze members from Europe, Israel, and America. We have joined with the Catholic Focolare in monthly study sessions, interfaith youth sports activities and a spiritual retreat at Kibbutz Nes Ammim. Jews, Christians, and Muslims from dozens of countries attended the event.

I want to thank our non-Jewish friends everywhere for your continued support. Please come and see this incredible nation for yourselves!

Posted by eshugerman 03:55 Tagged colorado israel holocaust nazis gentile judaism interfaith raoul wallenberg nes ammim Comments (0)

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