Various news sources
Photos: Jeff Malet – Maletphoto.com
Swedish-born businessman and diplomat Raoul Wallenberg was posthumously awarded a Congressional Gold Medal during a ceremony in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday, July 9. The medal was designed and prepared by the United States Mint in recognition of Wallenberg’s achievements and heroic actions during the Holocaust.
Raoul Wallenberg was born August 4, 1912. After graduating from the University of Michigan, he pursued a career as a businessman in Sweden, and later became a Swedish diplomat. While employed at the Holland Bank, Wallenberg met young Jews who had been forced to flee from Nazi persecution in Germany.
Working with the War Refugee Board, he helped save more than 100,000 Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust, many of whom later immigrated to the United States. Today, hundreds of thousands of American Jews can directly or indirectly attribute their own lives to Wallenberg’s heroic actions.
“Today’s ceremony, which was held 70 years to the day that Wallenberg arrived in Budapest, was a Kiddush Hashem and an opportunity for the world to see both survivors who were saved by Wallenberg as well as descendants of those he saved gather in Washington for no other purpose than to say thank you in the presence of Wallenberg’s sister Nina,” said Peter Rebenwurzel, who chairs the Raoul Wallenberg Centennial Celebration Commission established by Ezra Friedlander, CEO of The Friedlander Group.
Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Executive Vice President of American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) in Washington, DC, was invited up to the podium personally by House Speaker John Boehner, who hailed him as “a friend of this institution” to deliver a blessing.
Joining him on the podium, in addition to the Speaker, were Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), along with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representative Greg Meeks (D-NY), who sponsored the legislation authorizing the medal.
In the moving words of prayer, Rabbi Shemtov hailed the actions of Raoul Wallenberg, invoking the words of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of blessed memory, who passed away 20 years ago this week (and was the first spiritual leader to receive the Congressional Gold Medal), who emphasized that “even in the worst darkness, the light of just one candle can be seen far and wide” like Raoul Wallenberg.
He then prayed for America’s leadership ad armed forces, beseeching G-d to put an end to Jewish suffering and pain throughout the world, and finally usher in the ultimate redemption – to sustained applause.
Among the ambassadors, numerous members of Congress and other dignitaries were the Speaker of the Swedish parliament, Per Westerberg Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, the Swedish ambassador to the US, and the US Ambassador to Sweden, Bjorn Lyrvall, and Mark Brzezinski who all flew in from Sweden to participate.
Video: Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Shliach to Washington, DC speaks at the ceremony
Watch the full video at Speaker.gov