Holocaust Heroines Recognized For Saving Brothers Who Became NJ Neurologist & Lawyer

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State Sen. Raymond J. Lesniak, D-Union (center), presents a ceremonial resolution to Camille Ponchaut the great grand-niece of Adolphine Dorel and grand-niece of Jeanne Bonhomme, two heroines of the Holocaust who helped hide Henry Schanzer, his brother Bernie and sister Anna from the Nazis during the German occupation of France in World War II.

State Sen. Raymond J. Lesniak, D-Union (center), presents a ceremonial resolution to Camille Ponchaut the great grand-niece of Adolphine Dorel and grand-niece of Jeanne Bonhomme, two heroines of the Holocaust who helped hide Henry Schanzer, his brother Bernie and sister Anna from the Nazis during the German occupation of France in World War II.

TRENTON – Earlier this month, state Sen. Raymond J. Lesniak honored the actions of two French women who hid three children from the Nazis during the German occupation of France during World War II.

Adolphine Dorel and her daughter Jeanne Bonhomme protected brothers Bernie and Henry Schanzer. Bernie Schanzer is now an Elizabeth neurologist, and Henry Schanzer is an Edison lawyer.

Lesniak presented a ceremonial resolution on the floor of the State Senate to Camille Ponchaut, the great grandniece of Dorel. The Union County Democrat learned of the heroism of Dorel and Bonhomme from Bernie Schanzer, who has been treating Lesniak following his stroke a few weeks ago.

“The atrocities committed during the Holocaust were an affront to all of humanity, and we must never forget not only man’s capacity for evil, but also his capacity for good,” said Lesniak. “Madame Dorel and Madame Bonhomme, at personal risk, were among the many people who stood against the Nazi regime and the extermination of a people based on their faith. Their heroism is a beacon for all people – Jewish and non-Jewish – to aspire to and to admire.”

For their acts of heroism during the Holocaust, Dorel and Bonhomme have been recognized as two of the “Righteous among the Nations” by Yad Veshem, Israel’s official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Since 1963, a commission headed by a justice of the Supreme Court of Israel has recognized non-Jewish individuals who, at personal risk, helped to save the lives of Jews during the Holocaust. Individuals who are recognized as “Righteous among the Nations” by Yad Vashem receive a certificate of honor and a medal and their names are commemorated in the Garden of the Righteous among the Nations on the Mount of Remembrance.

Dorel passed away shortly after the close of World War II and was inducted posthumously into the ranks of the “Righteous among the Nations” in 1980. Bonhomme was also inducted in 1980, and passed away in 1988.

“There’s a quote in the Mishna, one of the major works of Rabbinic literature, that says, ‘Whosoever saves a single life, saves an entire universe,’” said Lesniak. “When I think of the lives that the Schanzer family has touched – many of the family members have gone into the practice of medicine – and to think that such a light in this world would have been extinguished if not for the acts of heroism of Adolphine Dorel and Jeanne Bonhomme, this quote has new meaning for me. I’m proud to be able to honor the heroism of these two outstanding women in the New Jersey Senate, and as someone who’s been treated by Dr. Schanzer, I’m grateful to them for standing against the Nazis and protecting the Schanzer family from a fate that befell far too many Jewish families during the Holocaust.”


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