Survivor meets rescuer: 'They saved our lives'

Holocaust survivors from Israel reunite with their wartime from Greece.

Yoni Kempinski ,

Sarah Yanai and Melpomeni Dina
Sarah Yanai and Melpomeni Dina
Jewish Foundation for the Righteous

Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, and The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous on Sunday co-hosted a reunion between Holocaust survivors from Israel, Yossi Mor (previously Yosef Mordechai) and his sister Sarah Yanai, and their wartime rescuer Melpomeni Dina (née Gianopoulou) from Greece.

“She saved my entire family, six persons, and thanks to her she can see our entire large family, because she saved us,” Sarah Yanai told Arutz Sheva.

“She did such a great thing. You cannot imagine how dangerous it was for her, for her entire family, to keep us with them.”

Yanai said she feels very emotional. “I cannot describe it. I’m very happy to be here, with her, with her daughter, with my entire family. She reminds me all the time now how we used to play together. They were three sisters, she was the youngest one, and we used to play together. What can I say? They saved our lives.”

Photo: Jewish Foundation for the Righteous

Stanlee Stahl, Executive Vice President of The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, said, “Here in Israel it’s special because you see the generations alive today, you see two grandchildren that are in the IDF and you know this family, which was put in a detention camp behind barbed wire in Cyprus. They saw the lights of the Haifa Harbor and they woke up the next morning to find a British frigate that took them to a camp with barded wire. And they came to the land of Israel, they helped to build the country and their grandchildren are now serving in the IDF.”

Added Dr. Joel Zisenwine, Director of the Righteous Among the Nations Department at Yad Vashem, “The message is that Yad Vashem and other organizations are making an effort to unite rescuers and survivors while they’re still alive and pay some sort of tribute, and it also shows us that there’s an expression of continuity. Families from both sides remain in contacts a generation or two after the rescue act and are continuing to say a simple thank you for a very risky act that took place.”