As the Yad Vashem medal given to rescuers says, “Whoever saves a single life is as one who has saved the entire world.” Besides saving lives, the rescuers preserved humanity’s honor. Perhaps most importantly, they inspire us today to the highest and the best we can do, Still, the Holocaust is a sacred memory, and when we talk about rescue, we must not forget the millions who perished without ever seeing a rescuer.
Our work on the rescuers began in 1986 when my rabbi, Harold Schulweis, told me about his efforts to create a foundation to acknowledge and help the hasidei umot ha-olam, the righteous among the nations (non-Jews), who risked their lives to save Jews. For twenty-five years Rabbi Schulweis had been talking to the Jewish community about the rescuers but few listened. The Holocaust evoked only pain and anger.
Donadielle, a Protestant Minister, provided false identities for Jews, getting them to Le Chambon, and hiding about eighty in the Cevennes. People in the village would whisper to him about a pastor saving Jews: “I would tell them to be careful talking about it because he could get in trouble.”