"More than once, in every generation, they have risen up against us, to destroy us. But the Holy One, blessed be He, delivers us from the destroyers' hands."
Those remarkable lines from a standard Haggadah, also have special relevance to the next holiday on the Jewish calendar: Yom HaShoah, which begins Monday night. While history has proven the quote from the Haggadah all too true, there have also been individuals who've taken a stand against evil. Today I would like to focus on the many Internet resources dedicated to the Righteous Gentiles, the people who risked their own safety and the safety of their families to save Jews from certain death in the Holocaust.
One of the most famous Righteous Gentiles was Raoul Wallenberg. According to the official site dedicated to the Swedish diplomat — www.us-israel.org/jsource/biography/wallenberg.html — Wallenberg is credited with saving the lives of at least 30,000 people. Also of note is the Raoul Wallenberg Interview Project. During the '80s and early '90s, Sweden's Uppsala University conducted nearly 200 interviews with Holocaust survivors in Budapest who were rescued by Wallenberg. You can read transcripts of more than 50 firsthand accounts by people who were saved by Wallenberg at http://rwa.bibks.uu.se All interviews are in English.
Thanks to the efforts of author Thomas Keneally and filmmaker Steven Spielberg, the name Oskar Schindler is known around the world. The New Orleans' Southern Institute for Education and Research has created the Schindler's List Teaching Guide. This large site — www.tulane.edu/~so-inst/slindex.html — examines the historical basis of the movie and also supplies extensive background information.
The most striking salute to these heroes is the memorial forest planted in their honor outside Yad Vashem, which was established by the Israeli government to create a memorial to the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. But it was also given the legal responsibility of honoring "the Righteous Among the Nations" by recording their names at the memorial's Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations. It can be found at www.yadvashem.org/righteous/index_righteous.html
As of this January, more than 19,000 men and women have been recognized for their heroism. The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous — http://www.jfr.org — is a New York-based organization that raises funds for more than 1,700 surviving Righteous Gentiles who are aged and needy. The foundation also runs an educational program that reminds us we are capable of good. "Rescuers serve as role models for us and for future generations. They teach us that, even in the hell that was the Holocaust, each human being had the capacity to act humanely. Without their example, we have only the lessons of brutality, hatred and unspeakable suffering to teach to our children.