Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


“Whosoever saves a single life, saves an entire universe"
(Mishnah, Sanhedrin 4:5)
            We, the Comrades of Unit 1012: The VFFDP, respects and honors those Non-Jews Who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis. Similar to the Chief Justice Rayner Goddard Award, we show our support to these heroes who saved the lives of the Jews, we honor them and remember them.

            We will post information about this honorific from Wikipedia and other links.  

Righteous Among the Nations medals and diplomas handed over during a ceremony in the Polish Senate on 17th April 2012

"In those times there was darkness everywhere. In heaven and on earth, all the gates of compassion seemed to have been closed. The killer killed and the Jews died and the outside world adopted an attitude either of complicity or of indifference. Only a few had the courage to care. These few men and women were vulnerable, afraid, helpless - what made them different from their fellow citizens?… Why were there so few?… Let us remember: What hurts the victim most is not the cruelty of the oppressor but the silence of the bystander…. Let us not forget, after all, there is always a moment when moral choice is made…. And so we must know these good people who helped Jews during the Holocaust. We must learn from them, and in gratitude and hope, we must remember them."

- Elie Wiesel, in Carol Rittner, Sandra Meyers, Courage To Care - Rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust, NYU Press, 1986. P. 2]
Righteous Among the Nations (Hebrew: חסידי אומות העולם‎, khassidey umot ha-olam "righteous (plural) of the world's nations") is an honorific used by the State of Israel to describe non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis.

The term originates with the concept of "righteous gentiles", a term used in rabbinical Judaism to refer to non-Jews, as ger toshav and ger zedek, who abide by the Seven Laws of Noah.

Scanned image of Maria Kotarba's Righteous Among the Nations diploma awarded by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 2005.

When Yad Vashem, the Shoah Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, was established in 1953 by the Knesset, one of its tasks was to commemorate the "Righteous among the Nations". The Righteous were defined as non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust (the term "Holocaust" may have come via Jewish-American journalist reporting on the Eichmann trial). Since 1963, a commission headed by a justice of the Supreme Court of Israel is charged with the duty of awarding the honorary title "Righteous among the Nations". The commission is guided in its work by certain criteria and meticulously studies all documentation, including evidence by survivors and other eyewitnesses, evaluates the historical circumstances and the element of risk to the rescuer, and then decides if the case meets the criteria. Those criteria are:

-       Only a Jewish party can put a nomination forward;
-       Helping a family member or Jew convert to Christianity is not a criterion for recognition;
-       Assistance has to be repeated and/or substantial; and
-       Assistance has to be given without any financial gain expected in return (although covering normal expenses such as rent or food is acceptable).

A person who is recognized as "Righteous" for having taken risks to help Jews during the Holocaust is awarded a medal in his/her name, a certificate of honor, and the privilege of having the name added to those on the Wall of Honor in the Garden of the Righteous at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem (the last is in lieu of a tree planting, which was discontinued for lack of space). The awards are distributed to the rescuers or their next-of-kin during ceremonies in Israel, or in their countries of residence through the offices of Israel's diplomatic representatives. These ceremonies are attended by local government representatives and are given wide media coverage.

The Yad Vashem Law authorizes Yad Vashem "to confer honorary citizenship upon the Righteous Among the Nations, and if they have passed away, the commemorative citizenship of the State of Israel, in recognition of their actions". Anyone who has been recognized as "Righteous" is entitled to apply to Yad Vashem for the certificate. If the person is no longer alive, their next of kin is entitled to request that commemorative citizenship be conferred on the "Righteous" who has died.

Recipients who choose to live in the state of Israel are entitled to a pension equal to the average national wage and free health care, as well as assistance with housing and nursing care. In total, 24,811 (as of 1 January 2013) men and women from 45 countries have been recognized, amounting to more than 10,000 authenticated rescue stories. Yad Vashem's policy is to pursue the program for as long as petitions for this title are received and are supported by solid evidence that meets the criteria.

Righteous Among the Nations medal received posthumously by Marta Bocheńska on 17th April 2012 in the Polish Senate

The "Righteous" are honored with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA) on 16 July. A "Righteous" from Italy, Odoardo Focherini (it), was beatified by the Catholic Church on 15 June 2013

Righteous in Israel

At least 130 "Righteous Gentiles" have settled in Israel. They were welcomed by Israeli authorities, and were granted citizenship. In the mid-1980s, they became entitled to special pensions. Some of them settled in British Mandatory Palestine before Israel's establishment shortly after World War II, or in the early years of the new state of Israel, while others came later. Those who came earlier often spoke fluent Hebrew and have now integrated into Israeli society.

The Garden of the Righteous among the Nations is part of the much larger Yad Vashem complex located on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem. Along with some two dozen different structures which comprise the Yad Vashem memorial – the second most-visited destination in the country after the Western Wall – the Garden of the Righteous is meant to honor those non-Jews who during the Holocaust risked their lives to save Jews. The entire site receives one million visitors annually. In the Garden, names of the Righteous among the Nations are engraved in alphabetical order on walls arranged according to country.


Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations with Wall of Honor in the background


The Garden of the Righteous initiative was launched in 1992 by Rabbi Jeffrey Wohlberg. Around the site trees are planted everywhere, with plaques attached to each one with names and countries of origin of those being honored. They are most prominent in the Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations (also pictured) meant specifically for that purpose, with around 2,000 trees.

Other points of interest in the complex aside from the Garden include: the Visitors’ Center, Book and Resource Center, the Holocaust History Museum, the Hall of Names, the Square of Hope, the Holocaust Art Museum, the Synagogue, the Exhibitions Pavilion, the Visual Center, the Learning Center, Hall of Remembrance, Pillar of Heroism, Children’s Memorial, Janusz Korczak Square, Archives and Library Building, Family Plaza, International School for Holocaust Studies, Administration and Research Building, Monument to the Jewish Soldiers, Partisans’ Panorama, Valley of the Communities, the Cattle Car Memorial to the Deportees (pictured), Warsaw Ghetto Square, Wall of Remembrance and others.

The Cattle Car Memorial to the Deportees adjacent to the Garden of the Righteous

The Garden prominently features the Wall of Honor for each country on which the names of the Righteous are inscribed. Also, the ceremonies of granting the awards are held in the Garden. There are three degrees of reverence granted to rescuers including those already deceased and their relatives; the presentation of the Title usually in the recipient's country by an ambassador, a special Medal in their name with Diploma awarded in Jerusalem, and the planting of a tree in the Garden of the Righteous. In 2010, the Square of Hope was dedicated in the honor of New York and Israeli real estate investor Henry Moscowitz.

Yad Vashem Jerusalem, Geography of Israel

The Avenue of the Righteous

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