Courtesy of JNS. Photo credit: JFR
Magdalena Sawka (left), a representative of Poland’s Office for War Veterans and Victims of Oppression, bestows Stanlee Stahl, executive vice president of the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, with Poland’s Pro Patria Award medal

(JNS) — Following a hiatus since 2019 due to COVID, the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous again brought together a group of Poles who put their lives on the line to fight genocide.

At the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jewry in Warsaw, leaders in diplomacy, religion and communities came together on July 9 with a delegation of 12 educators to recognize the 14 still-living Polish rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust. Some of the most prominent people in attendance were Israel Ambassador Yacov Livne and Poland’s Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich.

The honorees ranged in age from their late 80s to 100, prompting JFR’s executive vice president Stanlee Stahl to say that “because of their advanced ages and for many of them health issues, this is most likely going to be our last gathering for them.” JFR is a Manhattan-based nonprofit dedicated to supporting Righteous Gentiles, or non-Jews who saved Jews in Europe during the Holocaust.

Stahl described the 14 rescuers as “heroic people of exceptional character who risked their lives and often the lives of their families to save Jews during the Holocaust. This special event is designed to recognize them and give them the proper honor they deserve.”

Stahl also received honors of her own at the ceremony. Poland presented the Pro Patria Award to Stahl for her work on behalf of the JFR, which has given monthly financial help (more than $44 million in sum) to 100 aged Holocaust rescuers and created influential Holocaust-education programs.

Magdalena Sawka, a representative of Poland’s Office for War Veterans and Victims of Oppression, presented the award to Stahl.

“Events like this are a signpost between Poland and Jews that represent something beautiful,” Sawka said. “The Righteous Among the Nations are the pride of our country, and Stanlee Stahl has worked diligently for the past 31 years to help support, recognize and tell their story to the world.”