Jewish group to repair earthquake-struck family home of righteous Albanian
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Jewish group to repair earthquake-struck family home of righteous Albanian

British-Israeli activist Jonny Daniels and his From The Depths Foundation will help mend the house of Muhamet Bicaku, 83, which was devastated in the recent natural disaster

Daniels (third from left) with elderly Albanians affected by the earthquake
Daniels (third from left) with elderly Albanians affected by the earthquake

An Albanian Muslim man whose house was destroyed in an earthquake will have it rebuilt by a Holocaust commemoration group in honour of his father’s rescue of Jews.

The home of Muhamet Bicaku, 83, was devastated during the Nov. 26 calamity that claimed the lives of at least 55 people in the Balkan nation. During the Holocaust, Bicaku’s father, Mefail, and older brother, Njazi, sheltered about 20 Jewish families from the Italian and German occupation forces in Qarrishte, a town located about 50 miles east of the capital Tirana.

From the Depths, a Poland-based organisation that focuses on celebrating the actions of rescuers of Jews, has raised £7672 ($10,000) to restore the house, the group’s British-born Israeli founder, Jonny Daniels, wrote in a statement Wednesday after visiting Albania as part of a humanitarian mission following the earthquake. The total cost will be £34,524 ($45,000) and fundraising is ongoing, he said.

Muhamet Bicaku, who was 5 when his father began harbouring Jewish refugees, is now living in crowded conditions in a home of one his children in Durres, 20 miles west of Tirana.

In 2007, he received on behalf of his family the Anti-Defamation League’s Courage to Care Award. His father and brother were recognised in 1996 by Israel as Righteous Among the Nations, the country’s title for non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

“They offered our people the most basic of human needs, shelter, during their difficult times, saving their lives,” Daniels wrote. “It should be obvious for us today to come together and return that favour.”

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