Do all Avenue of the Righteous honorees have to be recognized by the Remembrance Authority at Yad Vashem in Israel?
Yes, all individuals honored by the Avenue of the Righteous have been previously recognized by the Remembrance Authority at Yad Vashem. Trees and stones in their honor may be found in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem.
How does Avenue of the Righteous determine who to recognize?
All honorees must be connected in some way to four states: Illinois, Michigan, Indiana or Wisconsin. This means that rescuers have either lived in one or more of these states or have rescued individuals who live or have lived in them. For instance, our two latest honorees - Fr. Raymond Vancourt and Raymonde Vancourt lived in France but they rescued Irene Poll, a deceased member of the Avenue Board, who lived in the Chicago area. Rescuer Diet Eman lives in Michigan.
What is a rescuer?
Rescue took many forms during the Holocaust and World War II .Some rescuers took individuals or small groups into their homes and held them for the duration of the war. Others, such as Raoul Wallenberg or Chiune Sugihara, provided documents for Jews to leave the countries in which they were oppressed. In each case, the rescuer risked something - his or her life or loss of livelihood, for instance. If a person was caught rescuing a Jew in Poland, the punishment was the same as it would be for the person rescued - death. Although rescuers risked for many reasons, they share a single feature among them: they saved lives.
Are there non-Christian rescuers?
Yes, there are Righteous Muslims from Albania, Bosnia, Turkey, countries of the former Soviet Union and an Egyptian doctor residing in Berlin. Click here for additional information.
Are there American rescuers?
Several American rescuers have been recognized since Yad Vashem established the title of Righteous Among the Nations in 1963 to honor non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. Martha Sharp was the first woman from the United States to be so honored. The Sharps, who were Unitarians, were only the second and third US citizens, after Varian Fry, to receive this title.
Avenue of the Righteous in Evanston is an interdenominational organization. Are there others like it either in the United States or elsewhere?
No. To the best of our knowledge, Avenue is the only organization that honors rescuers that began and continues to be composed of members of a wide variety of faiths. Baha’i, Roman Catholic, Quaker and Lutheran. Other Christian faiths as well as Jews are included.
When will honoring ceremonies end?
The plot of land that Avenue uses for honoring ceremonies can be found behind the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center in Evanston, Illinois. Avenue will continue the honor rescuers until it no longer has sufficient space to place a tree and a stone in the name of the rescuer it honors. New names surface every year. There is no shortage of rescuers. We hope to continue to honor rescuers well into the future.
How does Avenue of the Righteous educate students?
Several years ago, Avenue created an educational module entitled “You Can Make a Difference.” The module can be found under “Resources” on the Avenue website (avenueoftherighteous-illinois.org). Teachers can freely use the material in our module and may contact Avenue for additional advice and information. In addition, teachers can take their students to the Avenue site and walk the grounds retelling stories of the Righteous and reflecting upon ways to apply these stories to the lives of their students.
What role did the City of Evanston play in the founding of Avenue of the Righteous?
Avenue was founded in 1986 with the cooperation of the City of Evanston. With the gracious support of then Alderman later Mayor Lorraine H. Morton, the City of Evanston’s diverse community supplied the land for the Avenue. It continues to advocate for its mission. Evanston maintains the Avenue site. Mayor Morton has attended every honoring ceremony and frequently speaks.
How is Avenue of the Righteous funded?
The vast majority of money donated to Avenue comes from individuals who believe in its mission. The Avenue website was recently renovated. A PayPal tab can be found at the bottom of each page for individuals who would like to contribute. Money is used to create stones and pay for ceremonies.