For the first time, Yad Vashem will award its “Righteous Among the Nations” medal to an Arab recipient, in a ceremony to be held in Berlin on Thursday, AFP reported.
Egyptian doctor Mohamed Helmy will be honored posthumously for his bravery in hiding a young Jewish woman, Anna Boros, in a property he owned in Nazi Berlin during World War II, while also finding places for her grandmother and giving medical care to her parents.
Irena Steinfeldt, director of the Righteous Among the Nations department at Yad Vashem, said that Helmy, who himself was targeted by the Nazis, “saw the persecuted as human beings, and felt it was his duty to stand up and act.”
Helmy’s great-nephew, Dr. Nasser Kotby, also a physician, will be travelling from Egypt to receive the honor.
The matter was delayed for four years, during which time the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial said it had not been able to contact the next of kin.
Members of Helmy’s family reportedly did not want to accept the honor because of its link to Israel, but this was not confirmed by Yad Vashem.
Israeli filmmaker Taliya Finkel took an interest in the story, and succeeded in locating Kotby.
The award is to be handed to Kotby at the German foreign ministry by Israel’s ambassador to Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff.
Yad Vashem says it has recognized more than 26,500 Righteous Among the Nations, including about 70 Muslims.