Making a Difference: Children of Ramle & Sir Nicholas Winton, Patron Saint of Jewish Children

SirNicholasWinton
Photo sourced from Wikimedia
Sir Nicholas Winton, Patron Saint of Jewish Children

Good People Doing Good Things

I admit it. I love feel good stories about people making a difference. Every once in a while, I feel we’re in need of a good dose of stories about people who prove our faith in humanity. Here are two examples.

Chess Club for Children of Ramle

Here’s a video about Daniel Prozumenshivov, an American chess player who started a chess club for minority and immigrant kids in Ramle, a low-income suburb of Tel Aviv.

Looks as if David and his partner are MASA volunteers.

Saint Nicholas

SaintNicholas

And while we’re on the topic of doing good, let me bring your attention to a man I have dubbed Saint Nicholas.

Sir Nicholas Winton of Britain, 98, has been nominated for a 2008 Nobel Peace for his work in organizing rescue missions to save 669 Czechoslovakian Jewish children from concentration camps in 1939. He secured safe passage for the children through Germany and found them foster homes in Britain for the duration of the war.

Sir Winton’s heroic action was secret until his wife discovered documentation in the attic detailing his efforts. Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust Museum, does not consider Sir Winton a righteous gentile because his family was originally Jewish, having converted to Christianity before he was born.

Keep reading to learn more about Sir Nicholas Winton and
his incredible efforts.

Sir Winton’s Nobel nomination comes from 32,000 Czech school children, who signed a petition asking for the Nobel Committee to recognize his efforts. In a ceremony where he received the Cross of Merit from the Czech government last year, he said: “I am completely overwhelmed that should happen to me for something I did before most of you were born.”

But Saint Nicholas, we are here because of you and people like you.

Read a longer profile of our good sir at the Jewish Virtual Library or on this website dedicated to his story: The Power of Good.

Thank you to Simply Jews for the tip off.

Go forth. Do good.

Photo sourced from The Power of Good.

Recommended Reading

Righteous Gentiles & the Fight Against Anti-Semitism:

Making a Difference:

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15 Responses to Making a Difference: Children of Ramle & Sir Nicholas Winton, Patron Saint of Jewish Children

  1. ADM says:

    Shook Winton’s hand during the last installment of Forum2000 while he was here in Prague…when he won the award here in the C.R.

  2. Maya Norton says:

    Adam,

    Good to hear. I thought of you as I was posting this. What an amazing man. Looks like karma does a body good for this 98 year old.

    Maya

  3. ARB says:

    Great post Maya.

    O/T
    I found this online today. It’s another Bronfman proposal summary. Maybe you can ask the author to cross post, or to do a write-up with you about it.

    http://rachaelkafrissen.blogspot.com/2008/02/myth-of-yiddish-atlantis.html

  4. kulwin says:

    Thanks for pointing this out, ARB. I also posted a comment on Rokhl’s blog, and sincerely hope that she will reconsider posting something here.

    Regards, GK

  5. Shai says:

    I read the myth-of-yiddish-atlantis proposal. Two observations.

    1) Some Jews today have to be antagonistic to Israel and Zionism in order to establish their “secular” bona fides? It’s like the Amy Winehouse thing refusing to be interviewed by a Jewish local newspaper. Are we so frightened that thoughts might impact on our “brand”, that we can’t give those we disagree with a least some respect? Can’t Yiddishism survive without first sinking Zionism? Sheez.

    I agree Gary, you must be her “doppleganger”.

    I know my mom and grandmother spoke in Yiddish to keep me from understanding what they were talking about. But the language died two generations ago in all but NYC and Miami Beach in the US. I’d love to have known Yiddish, but that I didn’t isn’t because I learned Hebrew or was a Zionist (I was neither), it’s because (aside from being a secret language that kids aren’t supposed to understand) the community that spoke it never had to make a special effort to maintain it before. They just expected that it’d always be there. “Off the shelf”. That’s where they expected to find Jewish community, Judaism, and a host of other things that are today rare. Maybe the message is that today, we have to build the shelves and stock them ourselves?

    What she seems to want is the rebirth of Yiddishism, a secular Jewish cultural approach to Jewish identity. I agree it’s a shame that more or less Yiddish has died out, and there are enormous tracts of Jewish secular value locked up in the Yiddish language that are probably lost without a Yiddish rennaisance. In some way, I sought with my proposal to rebuild the Yiddishist persona by creating a Jewish identity that was not anchored in a ritual stream. I think there is definitely a need for this, and maybe she’s trying to tie into it. Learning a new language, though, is a difficult hurdle to pass to gain access to it. I wonder whether it’s possible to overcome it on some scale.

    2) When I was putting my proposal together, several people said something along the lines that I should copyright it, or should worry that someone will steal the idea. In hindsight, that seems especially silly. In any case, I said if only someone would steal the idea! The faster it all gets done the better! When we believe our ideas contribute to the whole of us, we are not so concerned about someone stealing the idea and we put it out in the open. I wish she were freer with the information so that we could benefit from it. Else, it may never see the light of day and what will have been gained by having thought it? I would have loved to see ideas like this one, which though I disagree with it, are so different than what we’ve seen in the past. It really is a shame that the competition heads are not posting the true variety of proposals “out there”.

  6. rokhl says:

    Hi folks,

    I appreciate being asked to participate in the discussion. But I put the barest of outlines up on my blog just for my friends to see because it was going to illustrate a new feature on my blog. Most of the people reading the blog are familiar with the context and background of what I’m talking about and therefor I don’t have to fill in as much background for them.

    Yes, one of my concerns is plagiarism and such. I know that there are advantages to sharing ideas. There are also disadvantages. At this moment I choose to not share.

    I’d rather not have my idea discussed in this forum simply because you’ve now seen a tiny fraction of my analysis and are discussing that. The actual proposal is twenty pages. There’s a lot to it. It serves no one to have it picked apart based on such a tiny portion of the facts and analysis.

    Thanks again, and good luck with your endeavors,
    rokhl

  7. ARB says:

    Shai,

    I agree with your comments about there being no need to be antagonistic to Zionism and Israel to establish secular bona fides. I actually saw that rokhl’s post was about the Bronfman contest and linked to it here before I read it. After I read it I certainly had some of the same reservations that you did.

  8. First,

    In response to Maya’s initial post. Thank you, quite inspiring stuff. It’s important that peoples good works be recognized.

    I actually, just last night wrote a different kind of “making a difference” appreciation post. It’s called, On the Receiving End of a Small Dignity. I write about the guy at the local gas station where there is no “pay-at-the-pump” and he lets me pump first, pay second, breaking the posted “Pay cashier first” policy.

    Obviously there is a universe of difference between the deeds of Sir Winton and the small dignity the gas station guy bestows upon me when I pump my gas. But I do think there are similarities too. And it reminds us that we don’t have to engage in good works on the scale that Sir Winton has in order to bring more dignity into the world.

    Regarding the Bronfman discussion and how and when people share ideas. More and more it is a Creative Commons kind of world where artists, writers, musicians, software developers etc. maintain some control over what they create, even as they give away a lot.

    @rokhl: why do you assume that your paper will be picked apart in a way that is negative. I can understand your concern about taking things out of context. Well hey, share the whole 30 pages. Post it as a file attachment to your blog. It’ll take up less disk space than most images posted to blogs. The main engine driving the success of open source software is the volume of free testers that these communities have access to. Why not test your ideas?

    As for the Yiddish thing. I heard this joke given live by I.B. Singer at a lecture he gave at UCLA (roughly 1985). “There is good news and bad news about Yiddish. The bad news is that it’s finished, gone, kaput, no hope of ever reviving it, we should prepare the grave and get ready to sit shiva. The good news is that it has been that way for 500 years.

  9. Gary Kulwin says:

    I can’t believe that we have two guys named Shai now (a.k.a. “The Shai Guys”)! One of you may need a nickname (but I’m afraid to suggest anything, lest I find myself enmeshed in one of those long threads like the recent ARB/NBA debacle).

    I am glad that Rokhl at least took the time to visit here and add a couple of comments. Of course, I agree with Shai in that I don’t really see Hebrew and Zionism as being the antithesis of Yiddish and Diaspora Nationalism anymore. Certainly, there was a time in the past when it may have been like this (I remember the old posters from the 1930s that read, “Ivri – Diber Ivrit!“. Today, however, apathy and assimilation seem to be our joint enemy.

    As for the Jewish establishment, IMHO they are “Zionist” to the extent that they recognize Israel’s current centrality in Jewish life and try to adapt to it. In other words, the mainstream organizations are more “opportunistic” that “Zionistic”, in my view. Rokhl may find it hard to believe, but it is basically as hard to be a Hebraist in the U.S. as it is being a Yiddishist (exlcuding the fact that many day schools and camps do successfully teach Hebrew to a limited segment of Jewish youth). In any case, I do sincerely wish her well (believe it or not, competition is always good for business).

    BTW, I have always wondered what it would have been like if the Birobidzhan experiment had really taken hold, and we somehow found ourselves in a world today with two sovereign Jewish states (one Hebrew-speaking and one-Yiddish speaking). Would we have agreed to set up a “Jewish League” (our answer to the Arab League)? Of course, I think that those Jewish League meetings would have been pretty painful to attend. First, everybody would have argued about which language to speak in (eventually they would have figured out to let everyone speak in the language they chose, and then ask somebody else to translate). Then, they could have blamed each other for their own decline, and later begged the other group to give up and join their side. Somebody would inevitably try to speak in Ladino, and they might have been ejected from the room (since the Ladino speakers didn’t have their own state yet). I would then expect everybody to give up talking for a while, and sit brooding in silence. Finally, toward the end, everybody would reconcile and plan on meeting one year later to do the whole thing all over again…

    Oh, well. All my dreams of a common defense pact, trade ties, cultural exchanges, etc. would probably never have gotten out of committee. I guess that, since we’re such an argumentative people, we’re better off having only one state after all.
    ๐Ÿ™‚

    Kol Tuv, GK

  10. !ื™ืขื ื˜ืขืก
    !ืฉืจืฒึทื‘ ืฐืขื’ืŸ ืฐืึธืก ื“ื• ืงืขื ืกื˜

    ืืฑืš ืื™ืš ื‘ื™ืŸ ืึท ื™ื™ึดื“. ื™ื™ึดื“ื™ืฉ ืื™ื– ืžืฒึทืŸ ืฉืคึผืจืึทืš ืื•ืŸ ืœืฉื•ืŸ. ืืฑื‘ ืื™ืš ื‘ื™ืŸ ื’ืขืฐืขืŸ ืึท ื”ืขื‘ืจืขืขืจ, ื“ืขืžืึธืœื˜ ืฐืขื˜ ืื™ืš ืจืขื“ืŸ ืื•ืŸ ืฉืจืฒึทื‘ืŸ ื”ืขื‘ืจืขื™ึดืฉ. ืึธื‘ืขืจ ื“ื™ ื”ืขื‘ืจืขืขืจืก, ืฐื™ ืึท ืคึฟืึธืœืง, ื–ืฒึทื ืขืŸ ื˜ืฑื˜. ื“ืขืจืฐืฒึทืœ ื“ื™ ื™ื™ึดื“ืŸ ื‘ืœืฒึทื‘ืŸ ืœืขื‘ืŸ. ืืฑื‘ ื“ื• ืฐื™ืœืกื˜ ื”ืขืœืคึฟืŸ ื“ืขืจ ื’ืœื•ืช, ื”ืขืœืฃ ืžื™ื˜ ื™ื™ึดื“ื™ืฉ ืึธื“ืขืจ ืœืึทื“ื™ื ืึธ

    .ืฉืจืฒื‘ ืึท ื ืขืงืจืึธืœืึธื’ ืคึฟืึทืจ ืึทืŸ ืึทื ื“ืขืจ ืฉืคึผืจืึทืš

    !ืœืึทื ื’ ืœืขื‘ืŸ ื™ื™ึดื“ื™ืฉ! ื”ืขื‘ืจืขื™ึดืฉ ืื™ื– ืึทืœื˜ ืื•ืŸ ื ื™ืฉื˜ ืžืฒึทื ืขืจ
    !ืื™ืš ื‘ื™ืŸ ื ื™ืฉื˜ ื™ืฉืจืืœื™ืฉ ืึธื“ืขืจ ื”ืขื‘ืจืขืขืจื™ืฉ
    !ืžื™ืจ ื–ืฒึทื ืขืŸ ื“ืึธ, ืื•ืŸ ืžื™ืจ ืฐืขืŸ ื‘ืœืฒึทื‘ืŸ ื“ืึธ

  11. ARB says:

    I think it would be nice if the semi-finalist Bronfman blog at least linked to other contest submissions that did not make it to the semi-finals; if the non-semifinalist proposal is posted in full somewhere online, or if there is a write-up about it on The New Jew or somewhere else. The semi-finalist blog doesn’t have to post the text of non-semi-finalists, but why not link them either in the sidebar, or in one post about people who didn’t make it to the semi-finals but whose entry or write-up is available online.

    What do others think of that idea?

  12. Shai says:

    Re: Warner.
    Mom, is that you?

  13. Maya Norton says:

    Got a couple lines of that translation. Anyone want to share the rest?

  14. […] “Making a Difference: Children of Ramle & Sir Nicholas Winton, Patron Saint of Jewish Chil… […]

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