Amid the horrors of the Holocaust, thousands of non-Jews selflessly risked their lives to save an untold number of Jews from persecution and extermination by the Nazis and their allies. It is a little known fact that 130 of these rescuers, the “Righteous Among the Nations,” chose to deepen their solidarity with the Jewish people following World War II and took up residence in Israel.
Today, Israel is home to a surviving 16 rescuers and 9 widow/ers of rescuers, 30 family units. This small group is aging rapidly and requires a great deal of physical and emotional care and support.
Since its founding in 2002, when the Righteous Among The Nations in Israel numbered 65, ATZUM has developed a close, ongoing, personal relationship which each of the rescuers and their spouses, monitoring their changing needs and working to ensure that these courageous individuals can live out their last years in comfort and dignity. This is of special importance as many came to Israel without family or any other network of support.
ATZUM provides them with the basic necessities not provided by Israel’s State social welfare, including professional caretakers and geriatric, dental, ophthalmic and auditory treatments and aids; facilitates home visits and phone calls from staff and volunteers; arranges for “adoptive grandchildren” to visit the rescuers; and sends flowers and cards for birthdays, holidays and special anniversaries. In this way, ATZUM sends a clear message to the rescuers that their heroism and sacrifice has not gone unnoticed and that they will never be forgotten.
ATZUM also recognizes the importance of educational outreach and strives to bring the rescuers’ stories to light. When teaching about the courage and strength of the Righteous Among the Nations, ATZUM focuses on their lives during the Holocaust as well as the lives they later established in Israel. As foundation for that work, ATZUM has amassed a collection of filmed interviews with the Righteous Among The Nations, allowing their inspirational stories to impact Jews and gentiles for generations to come.