Boca Raton, FL, March 21, 2016 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has bestowed the ADL Jan Karski Courage to Care Award posthumously upon Manuel L. Quezon, the first President of the Philippine Commonwealth, for his role in saving over 1,300 Jews from Nazi persecution.
The award was accepted by President Quezon’s granddaughter, Aurora Avancena, during an ADL Lecture Series at Boca West Country Club.
Established in 1987 to honor rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust era, the award is made possible through a generous grant from Eileen Ludwig Greenland.
“Too few in number stood up for the oppressed – we must honor them. President Quezon flung open the gates of his country while the world shut its doors,” said David S. Waren, ADL Director of Education, who presented the award. “Never again has become ever again. We see men, women, and children fleeing from genocide at the hands of ISIS; we see heightened anti-Semitic incitement and violence directed against the remaining Jews of Europe and against the Jewish state. In such a time, it is crucial for ADL to recognize the brave, righteous leadership of those who have stood up for the stranger, the oppressed, and the vulnerable.”
During her acceptance remarks, Ms. Avancena reflected on her grandfather’s history.
“Knowing full well that he might not live to see the dawn of independence for his country, my grandfather never forgot that a leader’s responsibility is to temper power with empathy, and authority with compassion.”
President Quezon donated his own land adjacent to his family home and presidential-retreat for the construction of a group home and farm for homeless refugees in 1940. He also successfully fought for a permanent executive provision to the 1940 Philippine Immigration Act, which allowed him to exempt refugees from national immigration quotas.
ADL Florida Regional Chair Scott Notowitz hosted the event and thanked the more than 400 guests in attendance, which included Henry Howard, the Honorary Consul of the Commonwealth of the Philippines to Florida, and Eric Lipitz and George Loewenstein, two Jewish refugees who were saved through President Quezon’s efforts.
“At a time when the horrors of genocide are playing out again, we are committed to recognizing the role that righteous people can play,” said Hava L. Holzhauer, ADL Florida Regional Director, in her welcoming remarks. “Those who saved lives created legacies.”
The ADL lecture series also included a presentation by Professor Robert Watson of Lynn University on “The Little-Known Legacy of the Holocaust at 70.”