Rabbi Simón Moguilevsky, member of the Executive Council of the Wallenberg Foundation, traveled specially to the city of Curitiba, Brazil, to pay tribute to Luiz Martins de Souza Dantas, Brazilian diplomat, savior of Jews and other persecuted during the Holocaust.
Moguilevsky, Rabbi of the Israeli Congregation of the Argentine Republic (Libertad Temple), participated on 13 June 2003 in a Kabalat Shabat ceremony of the Israeli community in Curitiba together with evangelical sisters of the Order of Mother Basel of the ”Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary” (ESM), an organization founded in 1947 within the German Evangelical Church. Its mission is to work for inter-religious dialogue.
After the Shabat welcome ceremony, the Rabbi awarded sister Adola of the Evangelical congregation with the Luiz Martins Sousa Dantas medal, specially coined by the IRWF.
The founder of the ESM was mother Basel who held a very strong opposition towards Hitler’s regime. As leader of Christian students in Germany between 1933 and 1935, mother Basel refused to support nazi regulations that prohibited the attendance of Christian Jews to congregation meetings. She risked both her life and her career by speaking publicly of the singular destination of Israel, God’s people. She was arrested twice by the Gestapo for proclaiming the authority of Jesus Christ and released in spite of her strong position. Furthermore, Mother Martiria, another of the founding members of the Sisterhood, taught the Old Testament to young students, an activity that was forbidden under Adolf Hitler’s racial laws.
On Monday, 16 June Rabbi Simón Moguilevsky attended the Studium Teologicum, a seminar for the education of priests run by Father Victor Calixto Dos Santos. The Lateran University of the Vatican is responsible for running this seminar. Professor Carlos Coelho, and enthusiastic activist of the inter-religious dialogue participated in the encounter.
During the course of the meeting Rabbi Moguilevsky presented Father Victor the Souza Dantas medal.
Luiz Martins de Souza Dantas was the Brazilian diplomat savior of Jews and other persecuted during the Second World War. He has been declared Righteous Among the Nations by the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. His biography, ”Quixote nas trevas. O embaixador Souza Dantas e os refugiados do nazismo” (Record Publishing, Rio de Janeiro – Sao Paulo), written by the Brazilian scholar Fabio Koifman, was published in 2002.
Souza Dantas issued, at risk of his own diplomatic career, exit visas to hundreds of Jews in France, occupied by the Third Reich army. His activity flagrantly contradicted the rules of Getulio Vargas’ pro fascist Brazilian government. Thanks to Souza Dantas many Jews could get to Brazil where they where detained by the immigration authorities to be released later.
At the end of his Brazilian tour, Rabbi Moguilevsky visited the Raoul Wallenberg Educational Center, a school carrying the name of the Swedish diplomat who saved tens of thousands of lives in Hungary in 1944. There he was received by the Director of the educational institution, Mrs. Maria Agostinha Drulla Felipe.
Moguilevsky presented the Raoul Wallenberg Medal to the educational institution. One of the students with best school marks received the award.
The IRWF will open in his website a section entirely dedicated to Souza Dantas soon.