In what will likely be one of the last of its kind, a pair of Jewish siblings shared an emotional reunion with the woman who helped save their lives during the Holocaust.
Sarah Yanai and Yossi Mor were just children when the Nazis invaded their native Greece and they were forced to take refuge in the single-room home Melpomeni Dina shared with her two older sisters, according to the Associated Press.
On Sunday, more than 70 years on, the trio reunited in Jerusalem, and Dina for the first time met the dozens of children and grandchildren who never would have been born had she not risked it all.
“She said now, she saw Yossi, me and all our family, she can die quietly,” Yanai, 86, said. “She’s very happy.”
The reunion — which took place at and was facilitated by Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial — was rife with emotion. Dina, 92, cried and laughed as she embraced Mor, 77, his sister, and nearly 40 members of their families, who lined up to give her hugs and kisses.
“There are no words to describe this feeling. It is very emotional for us to be together again,” Yanai told reporters, according to The Jerusalem Post.
The moment was special for the siblings’ grandchildren, too, like Mor’s grandson Imri Dor, who told the Post he’d grown up hearing all about Dina, and was excited to “finally put a face to the name.”
Dina (née Gianopoulou) was 14 when Yanai, Mor, their mother, and three additional siblings took refuge in the house she shared with older sisters Bithleem and Efthimia in Veria, Greece, according to the Post.
Efthimia had met and formed a friendship with their mother Miriam several years earlier, and allowed the family to live in her home, even sharing the sisters’ food rations with them.
“They were a very poor family. They saved us because they loved my mother for her good heart,” said Mor. “[Dina] reminded me how we used to play together. Thanks to her, we have our large and beautiful family.”
The family’s hiding spot was eventually discovered by authorities, but the three sisters did not abandon the group, aiding them once again by helping them escape into the Vermio mountains, where they continued to provide for them until the war ended, the Post reported.
According to the outlet, Dina said Sunday that what she and her sisters did was “the right thing to do.”
The moving reunion will likely be one of, if not the, last of its kind, according to Stanlee Stahl, executive vice president of the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous (Israel honors non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust as “Righteous Among the Nations”).
“I believe this will be the very last reunion,” said Stahl. “Either the survivor has passed on, the righteous has passed on or in some instances either the survivor or the righteous gentile is unable to travel and you know, they’re in a nursing home, assisted living or something.”