ISRAEL — Shaya Ben-Yehuda, managing director of international relations at Yad Vashem, shares regarding the incredible true story of Corrie ten Boom.
In Jewish culture, we believe that only very few, the most virtuous of all, have the distinction of passing through the “gateway to the Lord” while still in this world. Similarly, very few endangered their lives in order to save persecuted Jews during the Holocaust.
The ten Boom family — Corrie, her father Casper, and her sister Elisabeth — are certainly deserving of this privilege. In their honor, a tree was planted in Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, when they were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations. This is why I’m very happy that the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., has created a special exhibit this summer to honor Corrie ten Boom.
She and her family, believers, were spots of light in the thick darkness that descended on Europe and North Africa as the fist of the Nazis and their collaborators sought to annihilate the Jews.
Corrie had been taught by her father from an early age to cleave to the Bible and to recognize the special position of the Jewish people. When the Nazis invaded the Netherlands and began their oppression of the Jews, with the ultimate intention of sending them to the death camps, the ten Booms sought to provide a refuge for persecuted Jews. Their courage and sense of virtue saved many Jews, including numerous children.
Corrie and her family, motivated by the obligations of their religious belief and their sense of conscience, offered protection to the victimized Jews, who, for them, were the chosen people.
It is these people the prophet Malachi was referring to when he wrote: “In this vein have those who revere the Lord been talking to one another. The Lord has heard and noted it, and a scroll of remembrance has been written at His behest concerning those who revere the Lord and esteem His name.”
The ten Boom family put their faith in the Lord, helped many Jews reach safety, and were ultimately arrested and imprisoned for their efforts. Corrie may have survived her time in the Ravensbruck concentration camp only because she was released due to a clerical error — the other women her age were sent to the gas chambers. She lived to old age, dying in the early 1980s.
Yad Vashem has recorded their actions and recognized them as Righteous Among the Nations. The tree that was planted in their name will continue to tell the story of Corrie ten Boom and her family for the generations to come.
I hope many Jews and Christians will pass through the gates of the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., as thousands do each year at Yad Vashem in Israel, to learn a story we must remember so that we can tell it to our children, and to their children, for generations.
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