Racelle Weiman, Director of the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education (CHHE) at HUC-JIR, will be representing HUC-JIR and the CHHE when she is awarded the National Order of Civic and Political Merit by the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC, on May 18, 2005. The Honorable Alberto Romulo, Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs, will bestow The Order of Lakandula, rank of Commander, in recognition of HUC-JIR and the CHHE's significant role in bringing to light the Philippine rescue of Holocaust refugees during World War II.
On the verge of the Second World War, the Frieder brothers, a Jewish family based in Cincinnati, spearheaded a successful rescue of 1,200 Jews fleeing Nazi Europe. They helped create a haven in the Far East, in the newly emerging state of the Philippines. Enlisting the support of the first President of the Philippines, they had the active cooperation and participation from both the American and Filipino communities there.
The Frieder brothers were businessmen who ran a cigar factory in Manila. When they met frightened Jewish families on ships in the port of Manila, with no money, no visas, and little hope, they took action. They established the Jewish Refugee Committee and created a coalition of partners with President Manuel Quezon, the charismatic first President of the Philippines, and the former Governors of Indiana, US High Commissioner Paul V. McNutt, who joined them in constructing a plan to rescue as many lives as possible. US Army Colonel Dwight D. Eisenhower was recruited to this cause.
The triumph of good over evil and the timeless values of freedom and compassion will be celebrated at the award ceremony, which will also honor Frank Ephraim, author of "Escape to Manila: From Nazi Tyranny to Japanese Terror" -- the book that traces the escape routes of Jewish families to the shores of the Philippines and the generosity of the Filipino people. Posthumous honors, in the form of The Order of Lakandula, rank of Bayana (Grand Cross) will be presented to Paul V. McNutt and the Frieder Brothers.