Diario Judío México - Jewish Rescuer Fanny Ben Ami: “Build your lives and families here and only here in Israel. Because when things will go bad in the Diaspora, you’ll be thrown out.”

Today, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, the B’nai B’rith World Center and Keren Kayemet Le’Israel-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) held a one-of-a-kind ceremony, dedicated to honoring the efforts and instilling the legacy of Jews who saved other Jews during the Holocaust. The ceremony took place at the Forest of the Martyrs – Scroll of Fire Monument, and included the participation of approximately 300 IDF Border Police soldiers that served as an honor squad, and 300 high school students in Jerusalem and the surrounding area. The ceremony was dedicated to recognizing the heroism of the members of the French Jewish resistance in saving their brethren throughout the Second World War during the Nazi invasion of France.

Among those taking part in the ceremony was Jewish rescuer Fanny Ben Ami, whose autobiography was adapted into the movie “Fanny’s Journey” (2017); the French Embassy’s First Counselor, Fredrik Rogge; Dr. Tsilla Hershco, author of “Those who walk in darkness will see the light: The Jewish French resistance during the Holocaust and the creation of Israel, 1940-1949”; KKL-JNF Director of Human Resources Division, Mr. Eli Achi Mordechai; Director of the B’nai B’rith World Center, Alan Schneider; and Chairman of the B’nai B’rith World Center, Dr. Haim Katz. During the ceremony, a “Jewish Rescuer’s Citation” was granted by B’nai B’rith World Center and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jews who Rescued Fellow Jews During the Holocaust (JRJ) to Fanny Ben Ami and additional rescuers who risked their lives to save fellow Jews.

Fanny Ben Ami moved the audience when she said she is sharing her citation with the group of children she led during their escape from France to Switzerland. Fanny turned to the audience, and especially the soldiers and students present, and said, “Travel the world and take in new cultures, and learn, but build your lives and families here and only here in Israel. Because when things will go bad in the Diaspora you’ll be thrown out. Israel will always be the only safe place for you.”

Moshe Yogev, member of the KKL-JNF Board of Directors, said: “Fanny Ben Ami, who sits here today, reluctantly became a hero while she was still a child when she bravely led her friends, through unimaginable dangers, from occupied France to the safe haven of Switzerland. Like previous years, today we honor many Jewish rescuers like her, members of the French Jewish resistance and rescuers from additional countries who, instead of looking out for only themselves and their families, chose to risk their lives to save their brethren from the inferno. These life-saving acts are a source of pride and inspiration for us all, and especially to the younger generation: this is the ideal example of human and Jewish solidarity and, following the important value of ‘All of Israel are responsible for one another’”.

The French Embassy’s First Counselor, Fredrik Rogge, spoke on behalf of the French Ambassador: “We are here to remember the horrible tragedy that brought to the suffering and murder of six million Jews in Europe – men, women and children. In France, like in many countries in Europe, the Nazis were responsible for this tragedy. But they had accomplices in the French police, in the Vichy government that helped in the expulsion of 76,000 Jews – a quarter of France’s Jews at the time. France’s former President, Jacques Chirac accepted the responsibility of those actions on behalf of France. We are also here to remember the heroism of those who rose against the cruelty and inhumanity, those who saved Jews from being perished and sometimes paid the price. Many of them were Jewish themselves. In France, ten to 20 percent of the members of the resistance were Jewish despite the fact that they only made up one percent of the population. They saved thousands of adults and children by hiding them in hideouts or by false documents, and by smuggling them to Switzerland and Spain. The Jewish rescuers were the driving force behind the French Righteous Among the Nations. Together, they helped protect and save three-quarters of French Jewry. Together we will praise and honor their memory.”

Chairman of the B’nai B’rith World Center, Dr. Haim Katz, said that, “To date, the Jewish Rescuer Citation has been awarded to about 200 rescuers who acted in France, Hungary, Greece, Germany, Slovakia, Yugoslavia, Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Italy and Holland – in order to recognize the heroism of the Jewish rescuers during the Holocaust.”

The Forest of the Martyrs is the largest of the joint projects of B’nai B’rith and KKL-JNF, and was the first site in Israel established to commemorate the Holocaust in the early 1950s. Six million trees were planted in this forest in memory of Holocaust victims; different monuments are also scattered throughout the site in memory of many communities that perished, and in memory of members of B’nai B’rith in Germany and throughout occupied Europe who perished in the Holocaust.