While the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous has been in the news recently for our dinner honoree, I do not want the broader Jewish community to lose sight of the important work our organization does each and every day (“Fresh Outrage Over Plan To Honor Allianz Chief,” Nov. 1).
During the more than 25 years of its existence, the JFR has provided more than $30 million in support of aged and needy Righteous Gentiles who risked their lives saving Jews during the Holocaust. It also sponsors a well-regarded Holocaust educational program designed for high school teachers and their students.
Our principal fundraising effort is our annual dinner and the highlight of that event is the reunion of a rescuer and the person or families that they rescued. This reunion is often the first time that they have seen each other since the end of World War II. In addition, at this event, the JFR honors an outstanding teacher of that year who has demonstrated excellence in teaching the Holocaust and the role of rescuers.
Another element of the dinner is the opportunity to honor an individual with character and qualities worthy of receiving our “Recognition of Goodness Award.” This year’s honoree is Peter A. Lefkin, who has a distinguished career as an attorney and as a senior executive in the insurance industry.
The critics who spoke out against our honoree must remember that their protests do nothing but ultimately hurt the lives of elderly rescuers, most of whom live in former Soviet Union satellite nations in poverty. The stipends we send them each month, and for which we are reliant on our dinner, make a difference in their lives, assuring them food, heat and other basic necessities. It is that “hakorat hatov” [expression of gratitude] that we should all be focused on at this time.
The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous