About The Avenue of the Righteous

During the Holocaust, there were Gentiles who risked their lives to save the Jews from this Holocaust. As Pierre Sauvage describes, "They were, for the most part, seemingly ordinary men and women who could not accept the idea that there was nothing they could do." They hid entire families or provided the means of escape for many; they protected children by "adopting" them, they used whatever means were necessary to defy the Nazi murderers; they were the Righteous.

Click on the large image. Photography by Lori Swerdlow finishedfinely.com

In Israel a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, Yad Vashem, is approached through an avenue of trees known as the Avenue of the Righteous Gentiles. At the base of each tree a small plaque testifies to the heroism of that person whose action saved a Jewish life. To walk this path is to be surrounded by symbols of all that is noblest in mankind. It is an exalted atmosphere.

In Glencoe, Illinois, in the summer of 1984, the idea of creating another Avenue of the Righteous was born. A call was sent out to Christian, Jewish and Baha'I congregations for a meeting that set in motion one of the most significant interfaith projects ever attempted on the North Shore: the identification of and tribute to non-Jewish heroes of the Holocaust.

The response was immediate. Support grew as more congregations, public schools and civic organizations joined in. Members of the clergy and lay persons came together in a common effort which soon became a reality.

By 1986 the Evanston City Council had unanimously approved development of the Avenue of the Righteous on a site in Ingraham Park adjacent to the Evanston Civic Center. The design was complete, sufficient funds had contributed and construction began.

In 1987, the Avenue of the Righteous was dedicated.

Who founded the Avenue of the Righteous?

While there is no single person for whom credit is due, there are some who broke ground. Congregation Am Shalom Rabbi Harold Kudan was looking at a newspaper and saw a story about the death of a Righteous Gentile who lived in the Chicago area. No one had noticed his deeds on behalf of the Jews. Rabbi Kudan asked Ruth Goldboss, a civil and human rights activist in his synagogue, a key question -- why have we forgotten to thank them? The question energized Ruth who knew her organizational limitations. At a 1985 planning meeting for the Avenue of the Righteous, Ruth asked her friend Maureen Roin for help. Maureen, a diligent organizer, and her husband Dan Roin, a well respected attorney, agreed to participate. Behind the scenes, Dan Roin offered careful legal judgment and skill. Harold Kudan, Ruth Goldboss, and Maureen and Dan Roin erected the foundation that became the Avenue of the Righteous. Their consistent efforts resulted in the thanks to Righteous Gentiles who through their gooddeeds upheld the Talmudic entreaty “to respect the honor of humanity."

Introduction to Board Members & Supporters

The Avenue of the Righteous endures due to the voluntary efforts of its devoted Board members, community supporters, and a wide variety of Inter-religious individuals and groups who firmly believe that to be one’s “brother” is to recognize good and work actively to promote justice.

Avenue Board member Reverend Betty Landis (EOM)

Avenue co-founder Harold Kudan
speaking at the June 1, 2014 Rededication.

Former Mayor Lorraine H. Morton
Mayor Morton speaking at the June 1, 2014 Rededication.  The Avenue's premier supporter.

In Memory of
Avenue co-founder Ruth Goldboss
A champion of social justice and equality, her spirit lives in the work of the Avenue of the Righteous.

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