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Schulweis on Weidner

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John Weidner died in California in 1994. One of the speakers at his funeral, Rabbi Harold Schulweis, founding chairman of the Foundation to Sustain Righteous Christians, spoke of the meaning of the Dutch-Paris experience and the practical role it can play in our community:

Confronting goodness may be more painfully challenging than confronting evil.  It is one thing to study and condemn the sadistic behavior of a Klaus Barbie but quite another to study and acknowledge the rescue behavior of a John Weidner.  The latter presents us with a hard mirror.

Would I rescue a pregnant woman, a hungry or homeless child, an aged frightened couple -provide them with food and shelter, dispose of their refuse, and care for them in their sickness- knowing that doing so might bring disaster upon my family from Nazi pursuers and their informers?

The rescuer’s goodness shakes the foundations of my claims to virtue.  The behavior of flesh-and-blood rescuers compels me to think long and hard about my own goodness and to imaginatively rehearse my choices in analogous situations.