How to write about the Righteous Among the Nations? Words fail. Words are inadequate to describe or convey the goodness that they exude. Simply put, the Righteous are an example for all of us of what God hoped for when God created human beings.

The best way to describe who the Righteous are is by trying to understand what  they taught us, what they showed us through their entire life. I am a privileged person for I have been honored to meet many Righteous. Every time I meet one of them , I learn something new about how I should live my life.

Here are just a few lessons that I have learned:

Righteous  hate platitudes and hate being called a hero. Often it has been  repeated to me  that they simply did that which was normal. That they  were normal in a time when the world was abnormal. But even when the world went crazy, it did not give them the right to also be crazy. They simply lived their lives as they knew God wanted them to do. Morality is not something dependant on society or on others. A person needs to live according to his moral code. No excuses. No ifs or buts.

Often I would hear that the Righteous would say that they were simply doing  that which their  parents taught them to do. We need to truly appreciate the impact we have on our children (and on our surroundings). Whether we want to accept this or not, we are the biggest influence on who our children will become. Again, no ifs or buts. Simple truth.

I remember how Irena  Sendlerowa told me again and again that good people will always help and bad people will always damage or hurt. That the world is divided only into two groups of people: good and bad. Again, a simple and profound truth.

The Righteous risked their lives to save people some 70 years ago. But they continued also after the war to help others. On my last visit with Irena  she asked about how my family was and especially about my daughter, Arianna,  asking about her studies. When I told her that my daughter was finishing her third year of studies successfully, she smiled and said that she was very smart. Arianna was in the midst of writing several papers to finish her semester and was stressed out about all the work and if she could really do it all – just as any normal university student. I shared with Arianna what  Irena said and that gave Arianna exactly the encouragement she needed at that moment. A good person, even with his or her last breaths of life, still has the energy and presence of mind to help, save or support another human being.

The Righteous have taught us many lessons on how they lived their lives and also how we should live our lives. It is now up to each and every one of us to do acts of kindness, to do Tikkun Olam, fixing the world. The greatest monument we can build to remember and honor the Righteous is that each of us once a day do one more act of kindness to another human being. They made the world a better place. If we do one more act of kindness every day, we will continue to fix the world in the image of God’s kingdom as God has shown us through the lives of the Righteous Among the Nations.

It is now in our hands.

From the Album „Poles who rescued Jews during the Holocaust – Recalling Forgotten History“, Łódź 2009