During World War II, many civilians put their lives on the line to stand up for what was right.
An entire people was being slaughtered before their eyes, and they had a choice: ignore what was happening and let innocent people die or intervene and risk their own lives.
According to The Associated Press, Melpomeni Dina and her two older sisters, all orphans living on the outskirts of a Greek city, decided to share what few supplies they had with the Mordechai family and create a safe harbor for their Jewish friends, even if it meant they would pay the ultimate price.
For 2 years, the seven Mordechais sought refuge in Veria, Greece, spending much of that time with the sisters. One of the boys fell gravely ill and passed away, but the other six lived.
When they were forced to flee because word about them got out, they probably had no idea that more than seven decades later, they would get to experience an emotional reunion with one of their rescuers, referred to as a “righteous gentile” because of her sacrifices.
Dina, now 92, was able to meet with two of the children she helped rescue — Sarah Yanai and Yossi Mor — as well as the 40 descendants who came into being because of her family’s role in helping save the Mordechais.
“The risk they took upon themselves to take in an entire family knowing that it put them and everyone around them in danger,” Yanai told the AP. “Look at all these around us. We are now a very large and happy family and it is all thanks to them saving us.”
“There are no words to describe this feeling,” she added to reporters. “It is very emotional for us to be together again.”
“They were a very poor family,” Mor told reporters, according to The Jerusalem Post. “They saved us because they loved my mother for her good heart.”
“[Dina] reminded me how we used to play together,” she said. “Thanks to her, we have our large and beautiful family.”
— AP Middle East (@APMiddleEast) November 3, 2019
“I’d heard so much about it growing up and it’s really special to finally put a face to the name,” Mor’s grandson, Imri, told The Post. “She is a great inspiration, I hope that I will have the same courage. I’m so proud to be here.”
Dina expressed her elation at seeing the family and told them that she could now “die quietly.”
These kinds of reunions, though indescribably sweet, are drawing to a close as both the rescuers and the rescued are passing away at respectable ages.
“This is probably going to our last reunion, because of age and frailty,” the executive vice president of the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, Stanlee Stahl, told the AP.
“Either the survivor has passed on, the righteous has passed on or in some instances either the survivor or the righteous gentile is unable to travel,” she said.
“You see the survivors, their children, their grandchildren, you see the future. To me it is very, very, very special. In a way, a door closes, one opens. The door is closing ever so slowly on the reunions.”
Until then, we can still enjoy these wonderful moments as survivors and the righteous reflect on the lasting good that was done during a very dark time.
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