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Righteous Among the Nations
Righteous Among the Nations
(Hebrew: חֲסִידִי אֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם‬, khasidei umót ha'olám "righteous (plural) of the world's nations") is an honorific used by the State of Israel
to describe non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust
to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis. The term originates with the concept of "righteous gentiles", a term used in rabbinic Judaism to refer to non-Jews, called ger toshav, who abide by the Seven Laws of Noah.


1 Bestowing 2 Righteous settled in Israel 3 Other signs of veneration 4 Number of awards by country 5 See also 6 References 7 Bibliography 8 External links


Memorial tree in Jerusalem, Israel
honoring Irena Sendler, a Polish Roman Catholic nurse who saved 2,500 Jews when it was forbidden

When Yad Vashem, the Shoah
Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, was established in 1953 by the Knesset, one of its tasks was to commemorate the "Righteous Among the Nations". The Righteous were defined as non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. Since 1963, a commission headed by a justice of the Supreme Court of Israel
has been charged with the duty of awarding the honorary title "Righteous Among the Nations". Guided in its work by certain criteria, the commission meticulously studies all documentation including evidence by survivors and other eyewitnesses, evaluates the historical circumstances and the element of risk to the rescuer, and then decides if the case meets the criteria. Those criteria are:[1]

Only a Jewish party can put a nomination forward; Helping a family member or Jewish convert to Christianity is not a criterion for recognition; Assistance has to be repeated and/or substantial; and Assistance has to be given without any financial gain expected in return (although covering normal expenses such as rent or food is acceptable).

The award has been given without regard to the social rank of the helper. For example, it has been given to royalty such as Princess Alice of Battenberg, Queen Mother Helen of Romania
and Queen Elisabeth of Belgium
but also to others like the philosopher Jacques Ellul. In 2014, Henk Zanoli returned his medal after six of his family members were killed in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge.[2]

The Righteous Medal of Marta Bocheńska

A person who is recognized as Righteous for having taken risks to help Jews during the Holocaust
is awarded a medal in their name, a certificate of honor, and the privilege of having the name added to those on the Wall of Honor in the Garden of the Righteous at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem
(the last is in lieu of a tree planting, which was discontinued for lack of space). The awards are distributed to the rescuers or their next-of-kin during ceremonies in Israel, or in their countries of residence through the offices of Israel's diplomatic representatives. These ceremonies are attended by local government representatives and are given wide media coverage. The Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem
Law authorizes Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem
"to confer honorary citizenship upon the Righteous Among the Nations, and if they have died, the commemorative citizenship of the State of Israel, in recognition of their actions". Anyone who has been recognized as "Righteous" is entitled to apply to Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem
for the certificate. If the person is no longer alive, their next of kin is entitled to request that commemorative citizenship be conferred on the Righteous who has died.

The Righteous Diploma for Maria Kotarba

In total, 26,513 (as of 1 January 2017[update])[3] men and women from 51 countries have been recognized,[3] amounting to more than 10,000 authenticated rescue stories. Yad Vashem's policy is to pursue the program for as long as petitions for this title are received and are supported by evidence that meets the criteria.[4] Recipients who choose to live in the state of Israel
are entitled to a pension equal to the average national wage and free health care, as well as assistance with housing and nursing care. Righteous settled in Israel[edit] At least 130 Righteous Gentiles have settled in Israel. They were welcomed by Israeli authorities, and were granted citizenship. In the mid-1980s, they became entitled to special pensions. Some of them settled in British Mandatory Palestine
Mandatory Palestine
before Israel's establishment shortly after World War II, or in the early years of the new state of Israel, while others came later. Those who came earlier often spoke fluent Hebrew
and have now integrated into Israeli society.[5] Other signs of veneration[edit]

A Righteous Among the Nations
Righteous Among the Nations
award ceremony in the Polish Senate (2012)

The Righteous are honored with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church in the US on 16 July. A Righteous from Italy, Edward Focherini, was beatified by the Catholic Church on 15 June 2013.[6]

1940 issued visa by consul Sugihara in Lithuania

Polish passport extended in 1941 by Righteous Among the Nations Chilean diplomat Samuel del Campo.

Jan Zwartendijk hand signed visa from 1940

In 2015, Lithuania's first street sign honoring a Righteous Among the Nations was unveiled in Vilnius.[7] The street is named Simaites Street, after Ona Šimaitė; she was a Vilnius
University librarian who helped and rescued Jewish people in the Vilna Ghetto.[7] Number of awards by country[edit] As of June 16, 2017[update], the award has been made to 26,513 people.[3]

Rank Country Number of awards

1  Poland 6,706

2  Netherlands 5,595

3  France 3,995

4  Ukraine 2,573

5  Belgium 1,731

6  Lithuania 891

7  Hungary 844

8  Italy 682

9  Belarus 641

10  Germany 601

11  Slovakia 572

12  Greece 335

13  Russia 204

14  Latvia 136

15  Serbia 135

16  Czech Republic 116

17  Croatia 115

18  Austria 109

19  Moldova 79

20  Albania 75

21  Norway 67

22  Romania 60

23   Switzerland 49

24  Bosnia and Herzegovina 43

25  Armenia 24


 Denmark  United Kingdom


28  Bulgaria 20


 Macedonia  Sweden


31  Slovenia 10

32  Spain 9

33  United States 5


 Estonia  Turkey  Portugal



 Brazil  Chile  Indonesia

 Ireland  Republic of China



 Cuba  Ecuador  Egypt

 El Salvador  Georgia  Japan

 Luxembourg  Montenegro  Vietnam


See also[edit]

portal History portal Judaism portal Saints portal

Individuals and groups assisting Jews during the Holocaust List of Righteous Among the Nations
Righteous Among the Nations
by country Virtuous pagan Żegota


^ Gunnar S. Paulsson, “The Rescue of Jews by Non-Jews in Nazi-Occupied Poland”, The Journal of Holocaust
Education, volume 7, nos. 1 & 2 (summer/autumn 1998): pp. 19–44. Reprinted in “Collective Rescue Efforts of the Poles”, p. 256 ^ Schuetze, Christopher F.; Barnard, Anne (2014-08-15). "Resisting Nazis, He Saw Need for Israel. Now He Is Its Critic". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-07-06.  ^ a b c "About the Righteous: Statistics". The Righteous Among The Nations. Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem
The Holocaust
The Holocaust
Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. 2017-01-01. Retrieved 2017-03-11.  ^ "First Arab Nominated for Holocaust
Honor". Associated Press. 30 January 2007. Retrieved 1 February 2007.  ^ "Story in ''The Forward'' re Righteous Gentiles who settled in Israel". Forward.com. Retrieved 2013-09-06.  ^ "Odoardo Focherini: Late journalist, hero and Blessed of the Catholic Church". Rome Reports. Retrieved 19 June 2013.  ^ a b "Lithuania's first street honoring Holocaust
Righteous unveiled in Vilnius
Jewish Telegraphic Agency". Jta.org. September 25, 2015. Retrieved 2015-09-26. 


The Heart Has Reasons: Holocaust
Rescuers and Their Stories of Courage, Mark Klempner, ISBN 0-8298-1699-2, The Pilgrim Press. Righteous Gentiles of the Holocaust: Genocide and Moral Obligation, David P. Gushee, ISBN 1-55778-821-9, Paragon House Publishers. The Lexicon of the Righteous Among the Nations, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem. (volumes: Poland, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Europe I, Europe II). To Save a Life: Stories of Holocaust
Rescue, Land-Weber, Ellen, ISBN 0-252-02515-6, University of Illinois Press. The Seven Laws of Noah, Lichtenstein, Aaron, New York: The Rabbi Jacob Joseph School Press, 1981, ASIN B00071QH6S. The Image of the Non-Jew in Judaism, Novak, David, ISBN 0-88946-975-X, New York and Toronto: Edwin Mellen Press, 1983. The Path of the Righteous: Gentile Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust, Paldiel, Mordecai, ISBN 0-88125-376-6, KTAV Publishing House, Inc. Among the Righteous: Lost Stories from the Holocaust's Long Reach into Arab Lands, Robert Satloff, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, (PublicAffairs, 2006) ISBN 1-58648-399-4. When Light Pierced the Darkness: Christian Rescue of Jews in Nazi-Occupied Poland, Tec, Nechama, ISBN 0-19-505194-7, Oxford University Press. Zegota: The Council to Aid Jews in Occupied Poland
1942-1945, Tomaszewski, Irene & Werbowski, Tecia, ISBN 1-896881-15-7, Price-Patterson. Tolerance in Judaism: The Medieval and Modern Sources, Zuesse, Evan M., In: The Encyclopaedia of Judaism, edited by Jacob Neusner, A. Avery-Peck, and W.S. Green, Second Edition, ISBN 90-04-14787-X, Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2005, Vol. IV: 2688-2713. When Courage Was Stronger Than Fear: Remarkable Stories of Christians Who Saved Jews from the Holocaust
by Peter Hellman. 2nd edition, ISBN 1-56924-663-7, Marlowe & Companym, 1999. Rescue and Flight: American Relief Workers Who Defied the Nazis, Subak, Susan Elisabeth, University of Nebraska Press, 342 pp., 2010. Ugo G. Pacifici Noja e Silvia Pacifici Noja, Il cacciatore di giusti: storie di non ebrei che salvarono i figli di Israele dalla Shoah, Cantalupa Torinese, Effatà, 2010, (in Italian), ISBN 978-88-7402-568-8. Paul Greveillac, Les fronts clandestins : quinze histoires de Justes (in French), Nicolas Eybalin publishing, 2014 (ISBN 978-2-36665-000-6).

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Righteous Among the Nations.

The Righteous Among the Nations
Righteous Among the Nations
at Yad Vashem. Its online exhibitions include:

"Their Fate Will Be My Fate Too…" Teachers Who Rescued Jews During the Holocaust Spots of Light: Women in the Holocaust

"Polish Righteous – Recalling Forgotten History" (Website portal for the multimedia-based project and its research documentation and presentations). sprawiedliwi.org.pl (in English with a link to the Polish version). Warsaw, Poland: POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. 2016. CS1 maint: Unrecognized language (link) Heroes and Heroines of the Holocaust
at the Holocaust
Survivors' Network Klempner, Mark (2017). "Heart Has Reasons: Holocaust
Rescuers and Their Stories of Courage" (Website portal of resources for the book and lectures of the same name, with PDF and audio excerpts). hearthasreasons.com.  The site includes extensive lists of articles, books and film/video/DVDs about Holocaust
rescuers and related heroes, plus a reading group guide and book excerpts such as:

Rut Matthijsen: Chemistry of Compassion — the story of a Dutch biochemist and Righteous Gentile

Saving Jews: Polish Righteous — Those Who Risked Their Lives, compiled and edited by Anna Poray Photo gallery on righteous gentiles during the Holocaust
at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rescuers at the Jewish Virtual Library Karoly Szabo - Wallenberg, 1947, 1965: Holocaust
Memorial Budapest, testimony from the Jakobovics family The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous at JFR.org Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State at the American public television broadcaster PBS zyciezazycie.pl, a site commemorating Poles who gave their lives to save Jews Gardens of the Righteous Worldwide Committee Essay: "Paying the ultimate price"[permanent dead link] by Irena Steinfeldt, The Jerusalem
Post, 14 April 2009.[dead link] "AJPN - anonymes, Justes et persécutés durant la période nazie dans les communes de France
(The Anonymous, Just and Percecuted during the Nazi period in the communes of France)". www.ajpn.org (in French). Bordeaux, France: AJPN. 2008–2016. 

v t e

Righteous Among the Nations

List of individuals and groups assisting Jews


The Holocaust The Holocaust
The Holocaust
in Poland Holocaust
victims Righteousness Seven Laws of Noah Yad Vashem

Famous individuals

Irena Adamowicz Gino Bartali Archbishop Damaskinos of Athens Feng-Shan Ho Jan Karski Carl Lutz Tadeusz Pankiewicz Oskar Schindler Irena Sendler Henryk Sławik Raoul Wallenberg Rudolf Weigl Valdemar Langlet

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Related articles by country: Rescue of the Danish Jews
Rescue of the Danish Jews
• Rescue of Jews by Poles during the Holocaust

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