Righteous Among the Nations

From Academic Kids

After World War II, the term Righteous Among the Nations (Hebrew language: חסידי אומות העולם, transliterated Khasidei Umot HaOlam) has been used to describe non-Jews who behaved heroically during the Holocaust in order to save Jews from the Nazi-instigated genocide.



Righteous gentiles or Righteous Among the Nations is a term originally used in Jewish tradition to deal with the concept of non-Jews who were good God-fearing people. By Jewish tradition, the large set of laws and precepts contained in the Torah, as well as the Mishnah, Gemara, and oral tradition, are only required of Jews, who are regarded as having inherited the obligation from their ancestors who volunteered for the duty. In contrast to the 613 commandments enjoined upon Jews, non-Jews have to follow the broader ethical principles contained in the Noahide Laws; for instance: do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal.

Modern meaning

Since 1963, a commission headed by an Israeli Supreme Court justice has been charged with the duty of awarding the honorary title Righteous Among the Nations. The commission is guided in its work by certain criteria and meticulously studies all pertinent documentation, including evidence by survivors and other eyewitnesses.


A person who is recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations is awarded a specially minted medal bearing his or her name, a certificate of honor, and the privilege of his or her name being added to those on the Wall of Honor in the Garden of the Righteous at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the Israeli Holocaust Memorial. (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 in moving ceremonies in Israel or in their countries of residence through the good offices of Israel's diplomatic representatives. These ceremonies are attended by local government representatives and are given wide media coverage. The Yad Vashem Law authorizes Yad Vashem

"to confer honorary citizenship upon the Righteous Among the Nations, and if they have passed away, the commemorative citizenship of the State of Israel, in recognition of their actions."

Anyone who has been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations is entitled to apply to Yad Vashem for the certificate. If the Righteous Among the Nations is no longer alive, his or her next of kin are entitled to request that commemorative citizenship be conferred on the Righteous Among the Nations who has passed away. To date, 20,205 men and women, including family members who shared in the rescue of Jews, have been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations, representing over 8,000 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 solid evidence that meets the criteria. [1] (http://www.yad-vashem.org.il/righteous/righteous_program.html)

  • "A righteous gentile will receive a monthly cash benefit at the rate of the average wage. In addition, a convalescent grant of up to 8 days at the rate paid to civil servants, will be paid to a righteous gentile and his/her spouse. Health services, free of charge, under the National Health Insurance Law will also be provided to the righteous gentile." [2] (http://www.btl.gov.il/English/benefit/right/right.htm)
  • "The Righteous Among the Nations who experience economic difficulties - wherever they reside - are aided financially by the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, a New York-based philanthropic organization which was created for this purpose. The Anne Frank Fonds, based in Basle, Switzerland, looks after those in need of medication. The Righteous residing in Israel (some 35 people) automatically receive a generous state pension." [3] (http://www.israel.org/mfa/go.asp?MFAH00n90)
  • "Israel is home for 57 surviving Righteous Gentiles who saved Jews and came to live here alone, or with their families, at the end of World War II. ATZUM is working to provide basic needs not met by the Israel social welfare (NII) package, including visits by Israeli "adoptive grandchildren", professional caretakers, and geriatric, dental, ophthalmic and auditory treatments and aids. We are working intensively with eleven Righteous Gentiles and have distributed $13,000 to them." [4] (http://www.atzum.org/righteousgentiles.htm)

Count of Righteous Among the Nations per country and ethnic origin

Country of origin Count of Righteous Among the Nations
Poland 5,874
Netherlands 4,639 1
France 2,500
Ukraine 2,079
Belgium 1,402
Hungary 658
Lithuania 555
Belarus 537
Slovakia 454
Germany 410
Italy 371
Greece 265
Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) 119
Russia 116
Czech Republic 115
Croatia 103
Latvia 96
Austria 84
Moldova 69
Albania 63
Romania 51
Switzerland 38
Bosnia and Herzegovina 34
Norway 24
Denmark 19 2
Bulgaria 17
United Kingdom 13
Sweden 10
Republic of Macedonia 10
Armenia 10
Slovenia 6
Spain 3
Estonia 3
Brazil 2
China 2
Japan 1
Luxembourg 1
Portugal 1
Turkey 1
Georgia 1
Total 20,757 (As of January 1, 2005. Source: [5] (http://www1.yadvashem.org/righteous/index_righteous.html))

1 Includes two persons originally from Indonesia, but residing in the Netherlands.

2 Per their request, the members of the Danish Underground who participated in the rescue of the Jewish Community are listed as one group.

See also

External links


  • "Righteous Gentiles of the Holocaust: Genocide and Moral Obligation", Gushee, David P., ISBN 1557788219, Paragon House Publishers
  • "To Save a Life: Stories of Holocaust Rescue", Land-Weber, Ellen, ISBN 0252025156, University of Illinois Press
  • "The Path of the Righteous: Gentile Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust", Paldiel, Mordecai, ISBN 0881253766, KTAV Publishing House, Inc.
  • "When Light Pierced the Darkness: Christian Rescue of Jews in Nazi-Occupied Poland", Tec, Nechama, ISBN 0195051947, Oxford University Press

fr:Justes parmi les nations he:חסידי אומות העולם pl:Sprawiedliwy_w艣r贸d_Narod贸w_艢wiata


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