In chronicling the dark night of the Holocaust, filmmakers have discovered occasional chinks of light in the deeds of Righteous Gentiles, those who risked much to succor and save Jews.
Last weekend, on a gorgeously sunny afternoon in a remote (and extraordinarily picturesque) village high in the mountains of central Italy, I attended a ceremony that, in signature Italian style, was operatic in its mix of hyperbole and sincere commitment.
On Holocaust Remembrance Day, we honor those lost in the Shoah and the few who were saved through circumstance, luck or the efforts of courageous individuals. People like Oskar Schindler, Raoul Wallenberg and the Bielski brothers immediately come to mind, having been the subjects of books and movies such as “Schindler’s List” and “Defiance.”
A French organization that saved Jews during the Holocaust has declined to attend a commemoration because it was organized by pro-Israel Jews.
What never fails to amaze me is that there were one, or 36, or tens of thousands of the just and righteous, who stood solitarily against the terror, who defied the cautious "wisdom" of their fellow citizens. Let us reserve the once honorable word "hero" for such men and women, even though, ironically, they may be the first to reject the honor.