For the 21st time, my synagogue, Adas Israel, held its Guardian of the Righteous program this morning, honoring a non-Jew who helped save Jews during the Nazi years and World War II. This year, the honroee is the late Tina Strobos, who passed away in February at the age of 91. As usual, the program was extraordinarily uplifting.
Dr. Strobes was born in Amsterdam in 1920. Living with her divorced mother in a large Amsterdam townhouse, where they rented out rooms on apparently a semi-transient basis. Because they had reisdents always moving in and out, they were able to take in Jews, sometimes for a short period of time, while they looked for safer hiding places in rural areas.
In medical school at the time, Dr. Strobes was able to help her mother at home, and also act as a courier bringing food ration cards, news reports, false papers and more to hiding Jews. They also had a secret radio where they could listen to BBC reports.
Like so many other rescuers, they felt compelled to do what they did, notwithstanding the great dangers they faced if caught. And the dangers were real of course; helping a Jew was punishable by death. But they did not look upon themselves as heroes.
After the war, graduating from medical school and marrying, Dr. Strobos left Holland, winding up in New York, where she practiced psychiatry, and was active in many humanistic areas. At the time of her death, she was still working to stop the violence in Dafur, and for gun control.
A video interview had been made shortly before her death which was shown in part. A congregants, and family friend, painted a wonderful picture of her as a long time friend and neighbor. Her daughter accepted her award with very appropriate remarks.
There are so many lessons to be learned from these annual presentations, and the synagogue’s religious school students are present and participate. More about this program, including a link to the full video, can be found at http://www.adasisrael.org.