92-Year-Old Who Hid Jewish Family During Holocaust Meets Survivors' Grandchildren

Carol Kuruvilla

A 92-year-old Greek woman was reunited in Jerusalem with members of the Jewish family she helped save during the Holocaust, in what organizers said could be the very last meeting of its kind.

More than 75 years ago, Melpomeni Dina and her two older sisters risked their own safety to offer shelter to the Mordechai family, a Jewish family of seven from Veria, Greece. The Mordechais lived in Dina’s home until their location was compromised and they were forced to find refuge elsewhere.

The Jewish family resettled in Israel after the end of World War II. The two surviving siblings brought their children and grandchildren to meet Dina on Sunday for the first time ― about 40 members in total, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Sarah Yanai, the oldest child in the family, reflected on the enormous risk Dina took as a teenager.

“We are now a very large and happy family and it is all thanks to them saving us,” Yanai, now 86, told The Associated Press.

Melpomeni Dina, center, is reunited with Holocaust survivors Yossi Mor, right, and his sister Sarah Yanai at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem on Nov. 3, 2019.

Reunion ceremonies between Holocaust survivors and their non-Jewish rescuers have become increasingly rare as the generation that lived through World War II ages. Stanlee Stahl, executive vice president of the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, told The Jerusalem Post that the organization has been holding reunion ceremonies between survivors and rescuers once a year since 1992. But many have died or are too frail to travel, and Stahl said she thinks the meeting between Dina and the Mordechais will be the last such reunion ever to take place.

“To me it is very, very, very special,” she told the AP. “In a way, a door closes, one opens. The door is closing ever so slowly on the reunions.”

Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial recognized Dina, whose maiden name was Gianopoulou, as one of the “Righteous Among the Nations” in 1994. The title has been awarded to more than 27,000 non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jewish people during the Holocaust.

Mentes Mordechai and Miriam Mari, Yanai’s parents,...

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