Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?
— Proverbs 24:11-12
This week Jews in Israel and around the world will mark Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, on May 2, honoring the six million Jews murdered at the hands of Nazi Germany. Throughout this week, I will share reflections from my father, the late Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, on the importance for Christians and Jews to never forget and to continue the fight against anti-Semitism and persecution wherever it exists. — Yael Eckstein, FellowshipPresident
Raoul Wallenberg came from a wealthy and famous Swedish family. When the Nazis started rounding up Jews in Hungary, Wallenberg went to Budapest as a diplomat to hand out Swedish citizenship papers to thousands of Jews. More than 400,000 Jews had already been deported to Auschwitz, but 200,000 remained in Budapest, so Wallenberg acted swiftly and fearlessly.
He even chased down deportation trains, pulled Jews off, and declared them Swedish subjects under his diplomatic protection. The Nazis weren’t sure how to stop him. The Swedish embassy in Budapest could not accommodate all the new citizens, so Wallenberg purchased 31 buildings to use as “safe” houses and declared them Swedish property, protected by international law. Wallenberg may have saved as many as 100,000 Jews from a deadly fate.