Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has funded a new project by Jewish heritage workers to record the testimonies of Lithuania’s ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ before it is too late.
Abramovich, whose family is of Lithuanian descent, offered the money to From The Depths, a foundation working with Holocaust survivors around the world, particularly in central and eastern Europe.
The initiative was given added urgency following the passing last week of 110-year old nun, Sister Cecylia Roszak, who was honoured by Yad Vashem for her role in saving Jews in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius during the Holocaust. Among those she saved was world-renowned writer and partisan leader Aba Kowner.
From the Depths founder Jonny Daniels said the project would record the testimonies of the country’s remaining Righteous in memory of Sister Roszak and provide them with help wherever possible. There are only about 50 still alive.
Daniels, who was born in the UK, said the Chelsea owner’s support was vital to the project, but not surprising given his track record.
“Mr Abramovich has had a life-long commitment of supporting Jewish causes and we are grateful for his contribution in helping us expand this important project,” he said. “With Survivors and saviours passing at an increasing rate, our time is sadly very limited.”
He added: “The stories of these heroes are a spark of light when looking at the dark times connected to the Holocaust. They give us hope in mankind and give us the opportunity to learn what it means to stand and oppose absolute evil, a message so critically important today.”
Former Chelsea manager Avram Grant, the foundation’s honourary chair, said: “The most powerful part of this remarkable initiative is that it is being undertaken by young people. If we don’t fight to tell these stories now, they will be forever forgotten. The younger generation, through foundations like ours, are ensuring that this will not happen.”
From the Depths is run by millennials and has been running a similar project in Poland, recording for the first time Poles who saved Jews during the Holocaust, including those honoured as Righteous “and others who for numerous reasons were never honoured”.
Listen to this week’s podcast here:
While life in Israel has returned to normal and hopes are high that Britain is set for a summer without restrictions thanks to vaccines, for billions around the world there is no such imminent light at the end of the tunnel. In the majority of countries around the globe, particularly the poorest, the vaccine rollout has barely kicked off.
That's why Jewish News, the leading source of news and opinion for the entire UK community, is throwing its full weight behind UNICEF’s VaccinAid campaign by using this platform usually reserved for encouraging donations towards our own journalism to instead urge our readers around the globe to perform the greatest mitzvah: saving a life.
We have never before done this for any charity fundraiser but it's hard to recall a campaign that affects so many people, and indeed an entire planet aching for a return to normality. Just like the Chief Rabbi and Rachel Riley, we hope to boost the mission to deliver two billion vaccines, 165 million treatments and 900 million test kits around the world by the end of this year.
Please donate as much as you can, in the spirit of the Talmudic sages: “to save one life is to save the world entire”