Sunday, December 18, 2016

Would You Help A Neighbor?

Would you help a neighbor if the neighbor needed your help?

Let's take it a step further.  What if helping that neighbor endangered you?  What if helping could cost you your life?  Would you then help that neighbor?

I have another question for you.  Think long and hard before you answer this question: Would you help someone you didn't even know, knowing that help would put you into danger?

Answering requires a keep dive into your soul, the very essence of your beliefs. I, personally, think many of us will not know the answer unless and until it happens to us.

In our country, heroic people do walk among us.

For others, their time came during World War II.

The "Righteous Among Nations" (I will call them "Righteous") are non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during World War II - the Holocaust, or the Shoah, whatever you may call it.

At the Hanukah House museum in Binghamton, New York, this year's exhibit paid honor to the Righteous.  The material my spouse and I saw is courtesy of Yad Vashem, the memorial and institute in Israel that is one of the most comprehensive, if not the most comprehensive, collection of documentation of the Holocaust.

Here's just a sample of the heroic people who came from all walks of life to help their neighbors, their co-workers, and people they never had met before.


One of them was Princess Alice, the granddaughter of Great Britain's Queen Victoria.


Polish social worker Irena Sendler helped to smuggle Jewish children outside of the Warsaw Ghetto, and continued her efforts even after the Warsaw Ghetto was no more.

One exhibit contained a listing of the number of Righteous by country.  These numbers can not be fully trusted for various reasons but it gave me chills reading the list.

Some of the Righteous are well known, such as Hermine "Miep" Gies,  Otto Frank's secretary, who helped to hide Frank's family (including the famous diarist Anne Frank).  After they were found and arrested in 1944 (and ironic that new theories concerning these arrests are now coming to life, even as I write this blog post), Miep Gies went to the Nazi police and tried to get them released.  This heroic woman died in 2010, a month short of her 101st birthday.

It is interesting to note that many of the Righteous started out as bystanders, and risked not only their lives but the lives of their family, as the Nazis would execute entire families for the crime of helping.  They were ordinary people, like you. And me.

So, ask yourself now, even as the number of Righteous dwindle daily - "What would I have done?"

12 comments:

  1. I have always found stories of the Righteous to be interesting

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  2. Alana, This is a good post to ponder. I don’t think any of us will be able to give you an honest answer until we are confronted with a similar situation. Finding your blog is turning into a refreshing experience. Several of your recent posts have been ones that require a bit (or quite a bit) of reflection before commenting. That has not been my experience with many blogs, my own included. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thank you for your high praise - I hope I can continue to live up to this.

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  3. It's something to consider. If such things were to come to pass again (as they very well might, considering the mood of the world at this moment), what would you do? What would I do?

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    1. That's it exactly, Liz. I don't think we will know unless it happens. Humans are capable of such heroism and such evil.

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  4. I recently watched a documentary on the Kraus family (HBO) who got 50 children out of Nazi Germany. I honestly don't believe I could leave my children and do what they did. Then again, I've never had to deal with that situation.

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  5. I recently read somewhere about Irena Sendler. She was a remarkable yet somehow fully ordinary person who did what she felt was just.

    I don't wish to be tested in the manner of Miep Gies or Irena Sendler, but would hope to be able to not cower in the face of extreme adversity should it present itself.

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  6. It is really a tough question, one that does require a lot of pondering, for most of us mortal beings are too self-obsessed to think about the other person. There are people who go out of their way to help complete strangers, and there are people who will not move a finger was it their own kin in trouble. Reading about the heroes you wrote about, I wonder how they could gather the courage to do so much for their fellow beings, and if I have it in me to do the same. I hope I am able to at least give it a try, for I know my conscience won't let me live in peace!

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  7. It is a very tough call. The answer of "Haneni", here I am. I admit it was easiest to do this when I was younger; when there was no one relying on me for their lives, when what I did would realy affect no others. And, now that I am old, it is once again easier than when what I do- or don't- can't truly jeopardize another...

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  8. I've always believe good in most people. This sure proves that there good out there.
    Coffee is on

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  9. It was interesting to read the stories of the righteous in the 3 photos. Answering your question, I don't know if I will do the same as what those people did.

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