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?"