Obama to Speak at Righteous Among the Nations ceremony at Israeli Embassy

This Wednesday, President Barack Obama will speak at the Righteous Among the Nations Award Ceremony at the Embassy of Israel. The event, which takes place on International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 71st anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, is the first ceremony for Righteous Among the Nations ever held in the United States. 

The event is sponsored by the Embassy of Israel in partnership with Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Israel. At this ceremony, Yad Vashem will posthumously recognize four individuals who heroically risked their lives to save Jews from the Nazis, forever demonstrating the importance of standing up to intolerance and hatred everywhere. JTA reports:

The ceremony will recognize Roddie Edmonds, an army sergeant who while being held captive in a German prisoner of war camp, refused orders from a German commander to identify Jewish POWs under his command; Lois Gunden, an American teacher in France who made the children’s home she ran a safe haven for Jewish children, and Walery and Maryla Zbijewski, a Polish couple who cared for a Jewish girl who had managed to flee with her mother from the Warsaw Ghetto.

In addition the important acknowledgement and appreciation of these heroic acts, the ceremony may be a sign of melting tensions and improved relations between the Obama Administration and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayahu, moving past disagreements created by the Iran nuclear deal. The invitation from Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer for Obama’s involvement in the ceremony and his acceptance are notable. 

“It is a great privilege to recognize, on behalf of the Jewish state, the heroism of those to whom the Jewish people owe the highest debt of gratitude,” Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer said in a statement. “I also deeply appreciate President Obama’s acceptance of our invitation to speak at this historic event. It will be a worthy tribute to the worthiest among us.”

For the full story on JTA, click here.