Dozens of people from 49 countries delivered filmed greetings to a Polish rescuer of Jews on his 101st birthday.
Jozef Walaszczyk watched the 25-minute video of greetings at his Warsaw home on Friday on a tablet provided by From the Depths, a non-profit Holocaust commemoration group founded by British-Israeli activist, Jonny Daniels.
One of the greetings was from Eddie Jaku, a German-born survivor of the Holocaust now living in Australia.
“I was in Auschwitz. I am 100 years old. I wish you, on your 101st birthday, good health. Enjoy the rest of your life the best you can. I’ll do the same. It’s very nice to find a man like you, who has done so much good,” Jaku said.
Kem Banda and Imano Disi, professional singers from Zambia, sang happy birthday to “celebrate the life of Mr. Josef,” as one of them said.
The greeters had answered an online appeal for video messages by Daniels, and it included Rabbi Sam Taylor, of Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue.
Daniels told Jewish News: “Less than 1% of those recognised are Righteous Among The Nations are still living, our opportunity to learn from these heroes and give back to them, especially during these hard times, is becoming more and more difficult.
“I’ve known Jozef for over 5 years, he constantly uses the From the Depths free taxi service that we inaugurated almost 3 years ago with Chelsea Football Club, survivor Edward Mosberg and in partnership with the Jewish News, so there was no way I was going to let his 101st birthday pass without doing something very special for him!
“That’s why we made the video and had Izabella and Przemek perform for him at his home, with social distancing.”
Walaszczyk was also treated to a live concert by pop star Izabela Szafranska and musician Przemysław Skałuba at his home. Szafranska altered the traditional Polish birthday greeting, switching a line wishing that he live to 100 to 200.
Birthday candles had to be extinguished by hand because masks prevented blowing them out.
Walaszczyk rescued his Jewish girlfriend and 50 others during the Holocaust. He also fought the Germans as part of the underground, smuggling allied troops across borders.
Meanwhile, the students from the Magen David Academy in Panama also sent a special video via a zoom recording.
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