December 27, 2007 – The Jerusalem-based organization ATZUM – Justice Works has recently completed filming interviews with the majority of the surviving Righteous Gentiles living in Israel. This project, which Targum Shlishi proposed to ATZUM and supported for the past two years, is an outgrowth of ATZUM’s long-term work with this group of individuals.
ATZUM expects to use the footage to produce an educational video and accompanying materials for schools and libraries and to donate the interviews to an archive, ensuring that the stories of these heroic individuals will be preserved.
Righteous Gentiles are those who protected and rescued Jews during the Holocaust, often at great risk to themselves and their families. An estimated one hundred Righteous Gentiles moved to Israel after World War II. Their reasons for emigration were individual and varied. Many no longer felt comfortable or welcome in their home countries. Some wanted to leave the places where atrocities had occurred; others didn’t want to continue to live among people who had participated in the crimes. In some cases, their lives were threatened for having helped Jews when, after the war, Jews returned to reclaim property and homes that others had appropriated.
The filmed interviews focus both on the heroic acts of rescue during the Holocaust as well as the rescuers’ lives in Israel and their road to integration within Israeli society. The interviewees share stories of hiding Jews in their homes, supplying food and clothing, nursing wounds, and smuggling Jews across borders. Questions addressed in the interviews include: Why did they risk their lives to save another? What made them decide to live in Israel? What is their message for future generations?
ATZUM’s Righteous Among Nations project supports elderly Righteous Gentiles by providing weekly visits from volunteers to those in need of assistance or companionship, as well as financial aid for basic needs unmet by the state.
The goal of the Righteous Among the Nations project is to heighten awareness of this often overlooked group, and in particular, to focus on their lives after the war and in the Jewish State. The high rate of participation in the documentation project (thirty-two of the forty-four surviving Righteous Gentiles in Israel have participated) is the result of the personal relationships that have developed between the Righteous Gentiles and the ATZUM volunteers who encouraged them to share their stories on camera, many for the first time.
“The importance of capturing these stories before they are lost is enormous,” observes Aryeh Rubin, director of Targum Shlishi. “We are pleased to support ATZUM’s efforts to capture and preserve the accounts of these selfless individuals. It is our hope that these interviews serve not only as documentation, but as inspiration and a tribute to how ordinary people became heroes under the most difficult of circumstances.”
ATZUM/Avodot TZdaka U’Mishpat – Justice Works was established in 2002 by Rabbi Levi Lauer as an effort to maintain social justice for all of Israel’s citizens and workers. It is the only organization in Israel systematically assisting Righteous Gentiles. ATZUM also supports victims of terrorist acts and works to fight human trafficking in Israel. For more information on the organization, visit its website at www.atzum.org.
About Targum Shlishi
Targum Shlishi, a Raquel and Aryeh Rubin Foundation, is dedicated to providing a range of creative solutions to problems facing Jewry today. Premised on the conviction that dynamic change and adaptation have historically been crucial to a vibrant and relevant Judaism and to the survival of its people, Targum Shlishi’s initiatives are designed to stimulate the development of new ideas and innovative strategies that will enable Jewish life, its culture, and its traditions to continue to flourish. For more information on the foundation, visit its website.
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Contact Targum Shlishi at 305.692.9991 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.