This ceremony is the only one in the world dedicated to commemorating the heroism of Jews who rescued fellow Jews during the years of torment in Europe and by doing so resisted the Nazi murder machine.
Some 250 Border Patrol Cadets – who will provide an honor guard - and 300 high school students will participate. The ceremony will take place at the Martyr’s Forest “Scroll of Fire” Plaza, beginning at 9 am.
Guest speaker will be Prof. Uzi Arad, former chairman of the National Security Council and diplomatic advisor the prime minister. Also speaking will be Austrian Ambassador to Israel Michael Rendi, KKL-JNF Chairman Efi Stenzler and B’nai B’rith World Center Chairman Dr. Haim V. Katz.
Mrs. Soni Schey (Birnbaum), the eldest daughter of Joschua and Henni Birnbaum who rescued Jewish children in the Westerbork detention camp in Holland and at the Bergen-Belzen concentration camp in Germany, will represent the Jewish rescuers. She and her five siblings who all made aliyah after WWII, will light a memorial torch.
For the first time, a “Jewish rescuers citation” will be conferred at the event by the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jews who Rescued Fellow Jews During the Holocaust (JRJ) and the B’nai B’rith World Center to the children of Joschua and Henni Birnbaum and other rescuers who will be present.
The citation will be conferred in the future on all known Jewish rescuers or their next-of-kin in Israel and around the world.
Model for Jewish solidarity and courage
The event will be held at the Martyr's Forest – a joint JNF-B’nai B’rith project which memorializes the victims of the Holocaust in 6 million trees planted in the picturesque Jerusalem Mountains near Moshav Kesalon.
At the pinnacle of the forest stands the “Scroll of Fire” by the renowned sculptor Nathan Rappaport, which invokes the destruction of the Jewish People in the Holocaust and their redemption in the State of Israel in a moving base relief. The event will commence with personal testimonies by Holocaust survivors to classes of soldiers in the Forest.
The phenomena of Jewish rescue and the instructive stories of thousands of Jews who labored to save their endangered brethren throughout Europe are 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 rescue fellow Jews. The few who are still alive remain reluctant till today to recount their stories, satisfied in the knowledge that they were able to overcome the German tormentors and their collaborators and ensure that Jews survived the Holocaust in Europe.
Considering the fact that many of the rescuers were young at the time of their activity, the organizers of the ceremony view it as especially important to expose Jewish youth to the phenomena of Jewish rescue during the Holocaust as a model for Jewish solidarity and courage.
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