Irene Gut Opdyke

Because I write for young people, Rabbi Schulweis suggested that I write a book for them about the rescuers. All I knew about these people was that there was an avenue of the righteous at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. This was a path flanked by carob trees, each marked by a small plague inscribed with the name of a person who had rescued Jews. I assumed these people were dead and the trees were their memorial.

When I told Gay that I wanted to write the book, she said: “It sound as if these people are alive. I’d like to photograph them.” And that’s how the project began.

Except that Gay and I are Jews, we had no personal connection to the Holocaust. This may have been a disadvantage because we had no special motivation. On the other hand, because it wasn’t our particular grief, we were able to delve deeply, and through our imaginations, live in that time.

Irene Gut Opdyke

After being captured and beaten by Russian soldiers in 1939, Irene returned to Poland, working in a munitions factory that supplied the German front. She saw a baby brutalized in the Jewish ghetto and vowed to God she would help.

Her efforts resulted in saving twelve Jews who had been her coworkers at a Gestapo Laundry