What does the term "Righteous Among the Nations " mean?

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readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a great question. "Righteous Among the Nations," is a translation from Hebrew, which literally means, "Righteous Gentiles." It is an honorific title given by the State of Israel to any non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

This award was started in 1953 and then it passed into the hands of the Supreme Court of Israel in 1963 to honor those who helped the Jews.  The criteria are as follows:

  1. Only a Jew can nominate someone.
  2. The help of the Jews must be continual and substantial.
  3. The help had to be given without the thought of financial gain.

Those who are awarded this honorific title are also given a medal and a certificate. As of 2011, there were nearly 24,000 people who were honored.