Holocaust Remembrance Day

Jewish Holocaust heroes to be honored for 20th year at Jerusalem ceremony

18 people who risked lives on behalf of fellow Jews to be posthumously honored at B’nai B’rith Holocaust Remembrance Day event aimed at refuting claims about Jewish capitulation

Illustrative: Family representatives at the B'nai B'rith-KKL ceremony recognizing Jewish efforts to save Jews during the Holocaust in 2015. (Yossi Zamir)
Illustrative: Family representatives at the B'nai B'rith-KKL ceremony recognizing Jewish efforts to save Jews during the Holocaust in 2015. (Yossi Zamir)

For the 20th year in a row, the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael – Jewish National Fund will hold a joint ceremony on Yom HaShoah, Israel’s Holocaust Martys’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day, honoring Jews who rescued fellow Jews during the Holocaust.

It is the only annual event worldwide dedicated exclusively to commemorating the actions of Jews.

The ceremony will take place Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the Scroll of Fire Plaza in the B’nai B’rith Martyrs’ Forest, at the western end of the Jerusalem Forest. It will be streamed in Hebrew on the World Center Facebook page and in English on the B’nai B’rith International Facebook page.

At the ceremony, the Jewish Rescuers Citation will be posthumously conferred on 18 people for heroic deeds such as smuggling Jews to safety, risking their lives to save others while working in the death camps, playing integral roles in the resistance and escaping to tell the world of the atrocities being committed in camps like Auschwitz.

To date, over 600 heroes from Germany, France, Hungary, Greece, Slovakia, Yugoslavia, Russia, Lithuania, Poland, Holland, Italy, Ukraine, Latvia and Austria have been awarded the citation.

The award was created in 2011 by the B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust to honor and recognize the Jewish rescue of fellow Jews during the genocide and to help correct a common misconception that Jews didn’t significantly help rescue other Jews during the Holocaust.

Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial and museum, awards the Righteous Among the Nations designation for non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews but does not have an official honor for Jews who saved their own.

“For decades there’s been a focus on non-Jewish rescuers, such as the recognition as Righteous Among the Nations — an outstanding program spearheaded by Yad Vashem,” B’nai B’rith World Center director Alan Schneider told The Times of Israel in a 2018 interview. “But there is also a huge focus on it by European countries who want to showcase their rescuers, and they often have a much broader expression of this than Yad Vashem.”

“All of this has helped to create a brand of righteous among the nations, and now all these decades later, we’re trying to play catch up and recognize Jews who went beyond the call of duty and put themselves in even greater danger in Germany and allied countries,” he said.

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