Righteous Filipinos honoured
A MONUMENT is to be unveiled in Israel to commemorate the saving of Jews in the Philippines during the Holocaust and 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Open Doors will be built in the Holocaust Memorial Park of Rishon LeZion.
Organising committee member Max Weissler was among around 1,200 German Jews who fled to the Philippines during the Shoah. Mr Weissler’s father escaped following Kristallnacht in 1938. In 1941, he and his mother followed and were reunited with his father in Manila, the Philippines capital.
“I had my barmitzvah at shul in Manila,” recalls Mr Weissler, “where the rabbi and the chazzan were also German refugees. At school, my classmates were Filipino and I learnt the language, Tagalog, on the street. But, at home, Jewish life continued as usual.”
Now 77 and living in Hod Hasharon, Mr Weissler is dedicated to this monument. “I owe it to the Filipino people,” he says, lamenting a lack of dedication among the J ewish community, with most donors Filipino workers.
“They work six days a week and then organise shows and events on their one day off to raise money. This has been our main source of funds,” he said.
There are an estimated 37,000 Filipinos currently in Israel, most of them female care workers. Their average salaries are well below the minimum wage and NGOs warn that assault by employers is “widespread”.
Grateful memories: Max Weissler