The last reunion? In Jerusalem, Greek WWII rescuer, 92, meets the Jews she saved

Greek World War II rescuer Melpomeni Dina (C) poses for a group photo with holocaust survivors Yossi Mor (C-L) and his sister Sarah Yanai (C-R), whom she helped escape in 1943, along with their descendants at the Hall of Names at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem on November 3, 2019. (Photo by Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP)

‘Now I can die quietly,’ says Melpomeni Dina, as she unites with the dozens of descendants of the Mordechai family, in what may be the last-ever meeting of its kind

AP — One by one, the 40 descendants of a group of Israeli siblings leaned down and hugged the elderly Greek woman to whom they owe their very existence, as she sat in her wheelchair and wiped away tears streaking down her wrinkled face.

Clutching the hands of those she hid, fed and protected as a teenager more than 75 years ago, 92-year-old Melpomeni Dina said she could now “die quietly.”

Sunday’s emotional encounter in Jerusalem was the first time Dina had met the offspring of the Mordechai family she helped save during the Holocaust. Once a regular ritual at Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, such gatherings are rapidly dwindling due to the advanced ages of both survivors and rescuers and may not happen again. The soon-to-be-extinct reunion is the latest reminder for Holocaust commemorators preparing for a post-survivor world.

“The risk they took upon themselves to take in an entire family, knowing that it put them and everyone around them in danger,” said Sarah Yanai, today 86, who was the oldest of the five siblings Dina and others sheltered. “Look at all these around us. We are now a very large and happy family and it is all thanks to them saving us.”

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