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December 27: The Righteous Nun

Lawrence Bush
December 27, 2016
Sister Sara Salkaházi, who saved the lives of some hundred Jews in Hungary during the Holocaust, was murdered by the Arrow Cross, the pro-Nazi party of Hungary, on this date in 1944. Salkahazi, born in 1899, was a teacher, journalist, and worker-activist before she took vows in the Sisters of Social Service in 1930. During World War II, as the Hungarian Nazi Party gained strength and began to persecute Jews, Sister Sára opened the Sisters’ Working Girls’ Homes to hide and shelter them. In 1941, she became the national director of the Hungarian Catholic Working Women’s Movement, with a membership of nearly 10,000 in fifteen dioceses. During the final months of the war, as Hungary’s Jews became the last major population to face deportation to the death camps, Salkaházi was betrayed for her sanctuary work to the Arrow Cross. Some ten illegally housed residents were arrested, along with Salkaházi — who could have escaped but instead presented herself as head of the house. She was executed with a group of five others on the bank of the Danube River, where their corpses were discarded and never found. Salkaházi was recognized by Israel’s Yad Vashem as “Righteous Among the Nations” in 1969, and beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in September 2006. “At her final vows she added to her motto words from Isaiah: ‘Alleluia! Ecce ego, mitte me (Here I am, send me)!’ ”--Sisters of Social Service

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.