Semmy Riekerk said that we are like pianos: circumstances play the keys. All her life she has been grateful that, when the occupation began, she chose to play the high notes within herself.
Not all of us, however, have the gift of courage. Not all of us are capable of committing a radical act of altruism. We are all familiar with the disruption of house guests for a few days. Imagine keeping a stranger in your house for years! But the rescuers can still each us, because they represent the highest form of moral achievement. Just as we study the eating and exercise habits of Olympic athletes in the hope of improving our own performance, so we draw close to the rescuers to find a way to learn altruism.
Semmy Riekerk and her first husband, Joop Woortman, focused their rescue efforts on children. Joop was arrested in 1944 and Semmy carried his work on until the end of the war. She carried money and rations to over 300 people who were hiding Jewish children.