Whoever saves a single life saves an entire world. —Talmud, Sanhedrin 37a

The title “Righteous Among the Nations” is awarded to non-Jewish individuals who risked their lives and the lives of their families to rescue Jews from the threat of death during the Holocaust. The price that rescuers paid, if caught, was extermination. When most people collaborated with the Nazis or turned a blind eye to the mass deportation and systematic murder of Jews, these individuals stood apart in their moral conviction and human solidarity.

The Canadian Society for Yad Vashem (CSYV) has the responsibility to honor the “Righteous Among the Nations” or their descendants living in Canada, on behalf of the State of Israel. The CSYV has honoured 20 individuals in special ceremonies in Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal.

The CSYV also pays tribute to the “Righteous Among the Nations” during the National Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremony in Ottawa. Recipients are conferred a specially minted medal bearing the name of the Righteous and a certificate of honour. In addition, their names are inscribed on the “Righteous Among the Nations” wall in the CSYV Holocaust Memorial Site at Earl Bales Park.

“Righteous Among the Nations” demonstrate that freedom to choose does exist; that, even in the midst of opposition, it is still possible to live one’s life with moral conviction and integrity. It also shows that one person can make a difference.

The CSYV encourages Canadian educators to include the individual stories about Righteous Among the Nations in their educational programs while teaching this important topic in the classroom.