(From left to right) His Excellency Mr. Nimrod Barkan, Ambassador of Israel to Canada, Mr. Denis Lehotay and Mrs. Ester Driham, CSYV National Executive Director.
The Canadian Society for Yad Vashem and the Embassy of Israel recognized the “Righteous Among the Nations” at a special ceremony on February 9, 2018, in Ottawa.
Denis Lehotay received a certificate and a medal on behalf of his parents Victor and Mary Lehotay, who rescued Andrew Kun and his family in Hungary during the Holocaust. While many preferred to be bystanders, Victor and Mary Lehotay, guided by their moral convictions, stood against the Nazi regime. They did so despite the risk. If caught assisting Jews, they and their families would likely have been executed. In some cases, entire villages were executed.
Both the Lehotay and the Kun family participated in this moving ceremony.
“I am Holocaust survivor, and I am a survivor because of the Lehotay family, all I can say is thank you,” said Andrew Kun with tears in his eyes. “My family would not exist today without the Lehotay family,” Susan Kun emphasized.
“They were people who did the right thing, because they could not do otherwise, they listened to their conscience,” Denis Lehotay said about his parents.
“Victor and Mary Lehotay serve as a model of the triumph of universal human principles,” said Ester Driham, CSYV National Executive Director. She then recited a quote from Talmud: “Whoever saves a single life saves an entire world.”
The Story ofVictor and Mary Lehotay
Despite a great risk to their lives and lives of their loved ones, Victor and Mary Lehotay saved Andrew George Kun, his mother Klara and his newborn sister Susan during the Holocaust. Klara trusted her son to the Lehotays while she continued hiding. The Lehotay family took in Andrew as their own and found him a hiding place when it became dangerous to keep him at home. They also found Klara a refuge when she could no longer stay at her hiding place.
Mr. Andrew Kun Holocaust Survivor
The Kun family immigrated to Canada in 1949 and settled in Montreal. The Lehotay family fled Hungary in 1956 following the Hungarian Revolution. The Kuns helped them to immigrate to Canada. The two families started a new life in Canada and their bond has grown even stronger.
Righteous among the Nations
In 1953, the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, established Yad Vashem as the sole entity authorized to confer the “Righteous Among the Nations” title on behalf of the State of Israel to gentiles who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. As of today, more than 26,000 individuals from 51 countries have been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.
The Canadian Society for Yad Vashem (CSYV) has the responsibility and privilege of recognizing “Righteous Among the Nations” or their descendants who made Canada their home for their post-war lives. CSYV holds a collection of “Righteous Among the Nations” stories in written forms and video testimonies. CSYV encourages Canadian educators to include these unique accounts in their educational programs to share with young Canadians the stories of “Righteous Among the Nations,” as they demonstrate that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary courage.