2020: Rescue and Refuge

Rabbi Bent Melchior was born in Germany in 1929. When Hitler came to power in 1933, the Melchior family moved to Copenhagen, Denmark. Bent was 10 years old when the war broke out. After the Nazi invasion of Denmark in 1941, the Danish government refused to collaborate with the Nazis. In 1943, Bent’s father – Chief Rabbi Marcus Melchior warned all Jews of an impending round-up, and encouraged them to hide or plan an escape. The Danish Resistance Movement, with the assistance of many ordinary Danish citizens managed to evacuate 7,220 of Denmark’s 7,800 Jews by sea to nearby neutral Sweden where they were received as refugees. Bent Melchior and his family were among them. Through this mammoth effort, more than ninety two percent of Denmark’s Jews were saved.

Rabbi Bent Melchior returned to Denmark in 1945. He pursued his Rabbinical education and, after his father’s death in 1969, he succeeded him as the Chief Rabbi of Denmark. He retired in 1996, and continues his humanitarian and charitable work both in Denmark and around the world.