David Feuerwerker, a rabbi who helped liberate Lyons from fascist rule and then reestablished the Jewish community in that city after World War II, was awarded the Gold Medal of the City of Paris on this date in 1957. Feuerwerker was “an eminent scholar and spiritual leader of French-speaking Jews in North America,” said the Jewish Telegraphic Agency upon his death at 68 in 1980, who served as “Chief Chaplain for the French Armed Forces of the Resistance Movement. His decorations included the French Legion of Honor, the Croix de Guerre and six citations for bravery.” Feuerwerker and his equally brave wife Antoinette (the sister of Resistance activist Rose Warfman) helped to recruit couriers, distribute illegal journals, and provide false identity papers to French Jews, many of whom they helped escape to Cuba, Switzerland, and other destinations. He fled to Switzerland six months before the war ended (while she and their child hid in a convent), once the Gestapo realized that the couple was active in the Resistance. After the war, Feuerwerker helped develop the French system of Jewish education and became the first chief chaplain of the French Navy, before moving to Canada in 1966, where he established the Jewish studies department at the University of Montreal.
“[S]everal hundred resistants owed the false papers which allowed them to escape the searches of the Gestapo.” –National Order of the Legion of Honor