The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous (JFR) honored the sacrifices of Polish rescuers of Jews living in Warsaw in one of the largest gatherings of Holocaust rescuers in Poland’s capital city.
These righteous gentiles, who range in age from the early 80s to 100, are dwindling in number such that the JFR luncheon is likely to be among the last of such commemorations of its kind.
The event took place on Sept. 8, at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jewry in Warsaw. The annual JFR program has become the largest and most prestigious ceremony honoring rescuers in Poland.
In addition to some 30 rescuers, the event was attended by foreign diplomats, and religious and communal leaders, who spoke at the gathering.
Israeli Ambassador-designate Alexandre Ben-Zvi paid his respects, while the U.S. deputy chief of mission, Bix Aliu, of Albanian heritage, paid tribute to their extraordinary courage.
The luncheon also served as the launch event for the partnership between the JFR and Warsaw’s first kosher food bank, which launched earlier this year under the leadership of Poland’s Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich, and through the support and guidance of Yad Ezra of Detroit. Through this partnership, the pantry based in the Nozyk Synagogue complex will provide bimonthly food packages to righteous gentile rescuers in need.
The JFR provides monthly financial support to some 147 aged and needy Polish rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust. In the calendar year 2019, the JFR will send approximately $600,000 to rescuers living in Poland.
“These are heroic people of exceptional character, who risked their lives and often the lives of their families to save Jews during the Holocaust. This special event is designed to recognize them and give them the proper honor they deserve,” said executive vice president of the JFR Stanlee Stahl.
“Having developed food banks in the United States, I personally know the positive impact they have on families,” she added, “so I am very happy we can play a role in the creation of the facility in Warsaw and utilize it as a local base through which to provide support to Polish rescuers.”