An elderly Greek woman was reunited Sunday with two of the Jewish siblings she saved from the Nazis during the Holocaust.
Melpomeni Dina, 92, said she could now “die quietly” after gathering with the siblings and their 40 descendants at the Hall of Names at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem.
“There is no way to describe the acts of heroism and the danger they took upon themselves and all those around them to shelter an entire family,” said Sarah Yanai, 86, who is the oldest of the siblings.
Dina was only 14-years-old when she and her two orphaned sisters, Efthimia and Bithleem, hid the family of seven inside their own one-room house in Veria, Greece, after the Nazis annihilated nearly all of the Jews living there.
In spite of the dangerous situation, Dina and the two other girls cared for Yanai, her four siblings, and their parents by sharing everything they had with them.
“They fed us, they gave us medicine, they gave us the protection, everything, they washed our clothes,” said Yanai’s brother, Yossi Mor, 77, who was just a baby when the sisters took them in. “[Dina] loved me very much.”
However, when one of the children, a six-year-old boy named Shmuel, became sick, the sisters were forced to take him to a hospital where he tragically died. Not long after, someone discovered they were hiding the family and exposed them to authorities.
The sisters helped the family escape in separate directions and gave them provisions for the journey. Yanai ran into the woods and another sibling to the mountains while their mother fled with the two youngest children.
The young women continued to provide for them as they waited for the war to end. Thankfully, the family was reunited after the liberation and made their home in Israel.
On Sunday, Dina was clearly emotional as she embraced all of the family’s descendants, who otherwise would not have been born had she not risked her own life to save their ancestors.
“There are no words to describe this feeling. It is very emotional for us to be together again,” Yanai said.
Stanlee Stahl, the executive vice president of the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, said the organization has been hosting the reunions since 1992 but added that the one that took place on Sunday may be the last due to the advanced age of the survivors.
“You see the survivors, their children, their grandchildren, you see the future. To me it is very, very, very special. In a way, a door closes, one opens. The door is closing ever so slowly on the reunions,” she concluded.
However, that did not stop Dina from expressing a desire to have the siblings live with her once again at her new home in Thessaloniki, Greece.
“We will stay together day and night for two days,” Yanai told the woman who saved her life. “We have a lot to talk about.”