Thursday, October 14, 2010

Muslims Who Saved Jews: Groundbreaking Exhibition Hits St. Louis

In the dark story of the Holocaust, some of the few bright spots were the lives saved by individuals who put their own safety at risk. In the case of Jews being saved by those outside the faith, the State of Israel honors them as 'righteous among the nations'. Rarely, though, have we heard of the Albanian Muslims who saved some 2000 Jews during this period.

A new exhibition of photographs of these brave individuals is coming to St. Louis.

From the press release:

In 2003, renowned photographer Norman Gershman embarked on a project to find and photograph Albanian Muslim families who had sheltered and saved Jews - both Albanian nationals and refugees from neighboring countries - during World War II.

By 2004, after two photographic journeys to Albania and Kosovo, he had discovered roughly 150 Muslim families who had taken part in the rescue of the Jews due to their belief in Besa, or honor, an ancient code which requires Albanians to endanger their own lives if necessary to save the life of anyone seeking asylum.

Besa is, to this day, the highest moral law of the region, superseding religious differences, blood feuds and tribal traditions.

The result of Gershman’s journey, striking images of these families, as well as their stunning stories, will be on display for the first time in St. Louis at Temple Emanuel from October 21 to December 1, 2010.

The free exhibit can be viewed at Temple Emanuel, 12166 Conway Road, in Creve Coeur Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m., and by appointment.

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