Polish Pres. Andrzej Duda
Polish Pres. Andrzej DudaReuters

President Andrzej Duda of Poland bestowed his nation’s Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit upon Stanlee Stahl, the executive vice president of The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous (JFR), for her work in support of Polish rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust this week at Poland’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

Stahl heads the West Orange, New Jersey-based JFR and resides in Essex County. In July, she was the first American Jewish leader to receive Poland’s Pro Patria medal during a ceremony in Warsaw.

The Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland was created in 1974 to honor foreigners who have rendered great service to Poland.

“I am grateful to President Duda and the Polish government for this wonderful honor. It is a privilege for me to represent the JFR and the important work that we have been doing over the last 31 years,” said Stahl. “In practicing the Jewish commitment to hakarat hatov, (demonstrating thanks), we have been able to support more than a thousand Righteous Gentiles living in Poland, sending over $37 million to these heroes over the past 31 years. The Righteous are true Polish heroes and this award not only recognizes my work, and that of the JFR, but more importantly recognizes their courage and legacy.”

Stahl and the JFR’s mission is to repay a debt of gratitude on behalf of the Jewish community to those non-Jews who during the Holocaust, risked their lives and the lives of their families to save Jews.

Prior to joining the JFR as its executive vice president, Stahl established Extra Helping, New Jersey’s first prepared food transfer program. Before that, she spent 20 years working for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She has consulted for non-profits, speaks on fundraising and proposal writing, teaches a grant writing course and lived in Israel, where she worked for Magen David Adom, Israel’s Red Cross Society.

Stahl attended Miami University in Ohio and has graduate degrees from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and New York University.