Thursday, May 9, 2013

BESA


BESA Muslims Who Saved Jews in World War II, is a photographic exhibit by photographer Norman Gershman.  His book by the same name contains portraits and and moving text by 65 Muslim families in Albania who saved Jews during the war.  The photographs are beautiful and the stories compelling. I don't know when I've been so moved by a book.  The exhibit is free if you do not wish to tour the rest of the Civil Rights Institute and runs through June.

BESA means promise or vow and the stories of how these Muslim families risked so much for  the Jewish people that they did not know,  is a moving and heartwarming story.  Gershman visited Albania many times to photograph and interview those who were directly involved or their families.

I quote from Hamdi Mece, the grandson of Sulejman and Zenepe Mece:
" We never took money from those we sheltered. We took them in under our Besa. We are true Muslims and God granted us the privilege of saving Jews.  All life is precious and given by God. To save a life is God's gift.  My  grandparents and my uncle were unafraid.  They had full consciousness of what they were doing. "

8 comments:

Dina said...

So good to make such acts known.
It restores one's faith in humanity.

I looked up the names you gave us and found their page as Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem:
http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/righteous/pdf/virtial_wall/albania.pdf

s.c said...

That is a story you don't hear often. Thanks for letting us know.

biebkriebels said...

That is an interesting exhibition. I have never heard of this story about the Albanians. It has been a closed country for so long.

Virginia said...

Dina, I'm so glad you were able to see this post. The book is beautiful. You would love it.
V

Helene Titsch said...

A beautiful post....and a beautiful new header photo as well!

Petrea Burchard said...

This is beautiful. I'm going to seek out this book.

TheChieftess said...

Very interesting bit of history...poignant memories...

William Kendall said...

A very interesting turn in history. Thank you for sharing!