Caring for ‘Righteous Gentiles’
Besides caring for hundreds of needy Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has also become involved in recent years in supporting elderly Righteous Gentiles who were invited to take up residence in Israel because of their heroic deeds in rescuing Jews from the Nazi genocide.
Of the several thousand people designated by Yad Vashem as “Righteous Among the Nations”, only 127 are still alive today and 34 of them live in Israel. Although the state has provided them with social benefits over the years, they still have many unmet needs.
The ICEJ has partnered with the Israeli non-profit ATZUM to sponsor a special project which provides extra care for these Righteous Gentiles, including regular in-home visits by professional caretakers and “adopted” Israeli students, as well as various medical products and treatments. To ensure that their courageous acts are remembered by future generations, ATZUM has also filmed the personal testimonies of these Righteous Gentiles and why they chose to live in Israel.
One of these Righteous Gentiles is Jaroslawa Lewikca – the youngest person still living in Israel today ever awarded with this special distinction.
In 1941, when the German army occupied her hometown of Zloczow in the Ukraine, Jaroslawa was only six years old. But her grandfather, Aleksander Lewicka, gave her a very vital yet risky task.
Jews were immediately driven from their homes and not allowed to buy food. So each day, Aleksander would fill his granddaughter’s school backpack with food and medicine and then hide it under newspapers and textbooks. Young Jarolslawa would then walk several miles, passing many unsuspecting German guards, to secretly deliver the supplies to helpless and starving Jewish families.
In December 1942, when the Jews of Zloczow were confined to a ghetto, the special little courier continued her daily missions until the Germans liquidated the local Jewish community in April 1943. Among a handful of survivors of the massacre were two Jewish girls whom the Lewicka family sheltered until the area’s liberation by the Red Army in July 1944. The Lewickas also fed another group of 25 Jews hiding in the basement of a ruined house two kilometers away.
The danger of detection was great, given the large quantities of food the family was buying. But the Lewickas were compelled by Christian love to help and Jarolslawa faithfully carried out her courier missions despite the grave risks.
Several years ago, Jaroslawa took up Israel’s standing invitation and moved to Haifa to be closer to those she had helped. Now age 75, she lives alone and functions quite well, but still has many personal and household needs. So ICEJ-AID is now providing food and care in her time of need.
When asked about her brave deeds during a recent in-home visit by an ICEJ-AID team, Jaroslawa said that she and her family never thought they were being heroic.
“I did not see it as something great”, she said. “They were people and so were we. They would have done the same thing for us.”
Many Christians today wonder whether they would have been brave enough to rescue Jews during the Holocaust. Jaroslawa Lewikca was one of those who actually faced that challenge and accepted it at a tender age. Please help us show gratitude to her and other Righteous Gentiles in Israel.
Donate today at www.icej.org and mark your gift for ICEJ-AID.