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Yom Hashoah and the Righteous among the Nations


Today, 28 April is Yom Hashoah. Israelis across the country have stopped their cars in the middle of the streets and highways as the country came to a standstill to remember the unspeakable evil perpetrated in the Holocaust.

Paradoxically, I spent the eve of Yom Hashoah (27 April) in Berlin, honouring one whom I would term a ‘righteous gentile’. Horst Stresow, a founding member of Beit Sar Shalom Evangeliumsdienst has throughout his life demonstrated love for the Jewish people including those of us who believe that Yeshua our long-awaited Messiah. Messianic leaders came from Holland, Israel, the United States and of course the United Kingdom to recognise his exceptional love and faithfulness.

I was reminded of the other ‘righteous gentiles’ but for whom I would not exist. My mother, born in Berlin in 1933, has often told me ‘I was born in the year Hitler came to power.’ It was because of Hitler, the Nazism and the Nuremburg laws of 1935 that she lost her father. His death, however, resulted in her survival and life.

Shortly after, her mother remarried to a German-British Christian man called Frank Schmidt. I knew him as ‘Opa’. Frank Schmidt refused to be cowed by the Nazis and like Horst Stresow, chose to do the right thing regardless of the consequences. Subsequently, as events unfolded, he found himself concealing the identity of a German-Jewish girl, Jutta, right under the noses of the Nazi regime in Berlin.

I am grateful today for the German official who noticed my mother’s papers were not in order, and instead of pursuing the matter, tore her papers up concealed the matter. That was not only something out of order – and Germans are famous for their carefulness to do things rightly and in order – but it was at considerable personal risk to the official.

I am grateful for the neighbour in Berlin who, when my mother, as a little girl, played with her daughter and wrote her birth name instead of her assumed name, came up to her apartment and remonstrated with her parents. To give away such a distinctively Jewish name in wartime Berlin could also result in exposure and death.

And so, I am grateful for all who at risk and cost choose to advocate and protect the Jewish people. Today the news from Ukraine is that a mayor has been shot in the back. At this point CNN has not reported the fact, but Arutz Sheva has: the mayor is Jewish. That is not likely to be an insignificant aspect to the news, and one has to wonder if CNN was unaware, was not able to verify, or simply did not want to report this aspect of the story. As Jews, we need people who stand with us and for us. We remember the lost, but we remember those who did what they could.

London, 28 April 2014 / 28 Nisan 5774

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3 Responses

  1. Thank you Daniel this was very touching/moving be blessed!!

  2. […] Yom Hashoah and the Righteous among the Nations […]

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