Some 1,500 pounds of Santa Fe redstone from New Mexico sits now in a landscaped spot on the St. Ambrose University campus in Davenport in the form of a memorial to the 23,000 non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.
The stone is located just east of the entrance to Christ the King Chapel. It was unveiled and dedicated Thursday by speakers of the Catholic faith, as well as some from the Quad-City area's Jewish community.
Allan Ross said the monument and the dedication ceremony "are very personal and special to me." Ross, the executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Quad-Cities, noted that his father and stepmother escaped the Nazis in Europe during the Holocaust, most certainly with the help of non-Jews.
Actress Judy Winnick of Colorado performed at the event as Irena Sendler, the "Angel of the Warsaw Ghetto." Sendler was a Catholic social worker who is credited with saving 2,500 Jewish children from the ghetto area in the Polish capital where the Nazis forced Jews to live during World War II.
Winnick, a petite woman, wore a blonde wig and period clothing for her performance. "When you have saved just one life, you've saved the world," she said in character as Sendler.
After the dedication, Winnick explained that she is a retired schoolteacher who enjoys presenting the historical portrayal. Sendler, Winnick said, was also a petite woman and lived until 2008, dying at the age of 98.
The memorial is in keeping with the core values of St. Ambrose, including a broad awareness of humanity, said Paul Koch, the university's vice president of academic and student affairs.
Rabbi Tamar Grimm of the Tri-City Jewish Center in Rock Island led a prayer for the non-Jews, called righteous Gentiles, who risked their lives to save Jews from the Holocaust. It is important to remember that God works through the righteous, she said.
The relationship between the Jewish community and St. Ambrose University goes back generations, said Rabbi Henry Karp of Temple Emanuel in Davenport. He has served as an adjunct professor at St. Ambrose for 29 years, Karp said, and his predecessor did as well.
“Many paths lead to God, including Christianity,” he added.