Oskar and Obadiah: Not Such Hidden Heroes

May 28, 2024

At the beginning of the war with Hamas, I noticed a new trend on social media. Jewish influencers began posting the phrase #WouldYouHideMe. “Would you hide me?” The pre-October 7th version of me would have thought, “Who do Jews need to hide from?” It wouldn’t seem obvious in the 21st century, in a modern and “inclusive” world. But of course, we all know the answer to this question now. In a world where anti-Semitism is on the rise (that’s an understatement) and, in general, there is an increasingly illiberal and violent undercurrent in world politics – even in America –  it’s not such a crazy thing to wonder.

Would you hide someone else? When you are different from them religiously, politically, or value-wise – would you still have the backs of others?

In an ideal world, the modern State of Israel solves this question. Jews did not have Israel to “hide” them during the Holocaust. But they certainly do today. The reality, however, is that not every Jewish person lives in Israel. Not everyone who supports Jews or is being “canceled” for their own pro-Israel, pro-America sentiment can come to hide here either. It’s not practical, at least until the Messiah comes.

So, that leaves us with a new question to answer. What value system do you need to have to metaphorically hide someone else, to stand up against evil, to protect the people around you no matter how different from you they might be?

Who does that?

Throughout history, remarkable individuals have risked everything to save others. I’ve highlighted some of them in our recent “hero” series.

Though separated by thousands of years, the stories of Oskar Schindler and the prophet Obadiah share a powerful message: it’s of paramount importance to stand up against evil and help others, no matter who they are or where they come from.

In Jewish history, Obadiah stands tall as a remarkable figure. Born an Edomite in the 8th century BC, he embraced Judaism and became a righteous convert, rising to great spiritual heights. Though concise (only 21 verses long), his prophecy contains a timeless message. In the Book of Obadiah, he prophesies against Edom, foretelling the ultimate justice that will befall these descendants of Esau. You watched with glee as the people of Judea were met with misfortune. He warns Edom, You did nothing to stop the horrors. Now, the same will happen to you.

But Obadiah’s true heroism shines brightest during the reign of the wicked King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. As Jezebel ruthlessly sought to wipe out the prophets of the Jewish people, Obadiah, the officer in charge of the royal household, courageously used his position to hide and sustain a hundred prophets in two caves. He risked everything to provide them with food and water during a severe famine and, of course, keep them safe from the evils of Jezebel. We learn this from Kings 1.

The Talmud and other sages sing the praises of Obadiah’s incredible deeds. His legacy is not just of prophecy but of profound bravery and righteousness in the face of systemic evil.

Fast forward to the 20th century, and we find ourselves in the midst of one of history’s darkest chapters: the Holocaust. Here, we meet Oskar Schindler, an unlikely hero whose transformation from unassuming businessman to savior of Jews is nothing short of extraordinary.

Schindler, a non-Jewish German, who arrived in Krakow, Poland, in 1939, seized an opportunity to take over a Jewish-owned enamelware factory. Initially employing Jews as cheap labor, his perspective began to shift as he witnessed the horrific brutalities inflicted upon them. The liquidation of the Krakow ghetto in 1942 deeply affected his conscience. Schindler’s factory, Emalia, became a sanctuary for Jewish workers, shielding them from the ever-present threat of deportation and death.

Through a combination of bribes and shrewd negotiations with Nazi officials, Schindler managed to protect his Jewish employees. He transformed his factory into a sub-camp of Plaszow, ensuring better treatment and a higher chance of survival for his workers. Schindler’s efforts culminated in the creation of the famous “Schindler’s List,” which saved around 1,100 Jews by transferring them to a safer factory in Brünnlitz, Czechoslovakia.

Schindler’s legacy is forever etched in history. When he passed away in 1974, he was honored with a special burial in Jerusalem, a testament to the eternal gratitude of the Jewish people. Proverbs perfectly captures Schindler’s actions:

The heroic spirit of Oskar Schindler also lives on through one of his family members, Reverend Rosemary Schindler Garlow, who is dedicated to ensuring that the message of standing against evil is never forgotten. Through her work with Schindler’s Ark International, she strives to foster understanding and support between Christians and Jews, as well as between the USA and Israel. Rosemary is committed to creating a world where anti-Semitism and terror are relegated to the annals of history, never to be repeated.

These stories highlight the importance of helping others regardless of their background. Just take a page from Obadiah and Schindler. Obadiah, a convert, became a renowned figure within the Jewish tradition, while Schindler, a non-Jew, became a source of hope for countless others. Their lives exemplify the Jewish principle of “pikuach nefesh,” which teaches that saving a life takes precedence over almost all other religious considerations.

Today, the alarming rise in anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment demands our urgent attention and action. The stories of Obadiah and Oskar Schindler serve as powerful reminders that we cannot afford to hide from the truth or remain passive bystanders in the face of evil. Like these heroes, we must find the courage to stand up for what is right, even when it is difficult or unpopular.

We must actively speak out against hate speech, boycotts, and misinformation targeting Israel and the Jewish people. We must educate others about the realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, countering false narratives and propaganda. We must be willing to engage in difficult conversations and challenge prejudice head-on, recognizing that the fight against anti-Semitism is a moral imperative that affects us all.

It’s easy to remain silent or go along with the crowd, but true moral courage requires us to speak out and act, even when it is uncomfortable or risky.

Obadiah, Schindler, and Rosemary Schindler Garlow’s examples inspire us to move beyond mere words and take meaningful action to support and defend the Jewish people and all those facing persecution. Let us honor their legacies by standing together as a united front, using our collective voices and resources to make a powerful difference in the world.

The time for silence and inaction is over. We must each find the strength within ourselves to confront anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry and hatred. Let us commit ourselves to being heroes in our own time, no matter the cost. 

Allowing a Palestinian terror state in the heart of Israel would destroy the Jewish State.Keep God’s Land is dedicated to strengthening and defending Israel’s right to its biblical heartland, with the ultimate goal of Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.Learn More about this incredible mission today!

Sara Lamm

Sara Lamm is a content editor for TheIsraelBible.com and Israel365 Publications. Originally from Virginia, she moved to Israel with her husband and children in 2021. Sara has a Masters Degree in Education from Bankstreet college and taught preschool for almost a decade before making Aliyah to Israel. Sara is passionate about connecting Bible study with “real life’ and is currently working on a children’s Bible series.

Sara Lamm

Sara Lamm is a content editor for TheIsraelBible.com and Israel365 Publications. Originally from Virginia, she moved to Israel with her husband and children in 2021. Sara has a Masters Degree in Education from Bankstreet college and taught preschool for almost a decade before making Aliyah to Israel. Sara is passionate about connecting Bible study with “real life’ and is currently working on a children’s Bible series.

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