Northern Hills Synagogue-Congregation B'nai Avraham logo NHS-CBA building exterior

Lunch and Program

Wednesday, January 16, 2019
12 Noon

Guest Speaker: Joyce Kamen

How the Moral Courage of an Arab Doctor
Saved a Jewish Girl in Nazi Berlin

On Wednesday, January 16th, we learned how Dr. Fred Wagshul's search for his biological family led to the discovery of how the unwavering morality and unfathomable courage of one man, Dr. Mohamed Helmy—an Arab Egyptian physician—saved an entire Jewish family during the Holocaust. That family was Fred's mother (Anna), grandmother and great grandmother. Dr. Wagshul's wife, Joyce Kamen, shared this incredible story at Northern Hills Synagogue at the monthly HaZak program.

"This remarkable story began with a search for Fred's biological family in 2013 and led to the revelation of astonishing details of Dr. Helmy's uncommon heroism and how he successfully saved Fred's family," said Joyce Kamen. "It is a moving and most remarkable story, about which two books have been written and two films have been produced."

In October 2017, Fred and Joyce traveled to Berlin to witness the official ceremony honoring Dr. Helmy. They are scheduled to return to Berlin next year to attend the premier of a new documentary—produced by Israel television— about how Anna and her family were saved from Nazi annihilation by Dr. Helmy.

Dr. Mohamed Helmy, who was born in Khartoum in 1901 to Egyptian parents, studied medicine in Berlin and became head of the urology department at the Robert Koch Hospital. Helmy became witness to the dismissal of Jewish doctors from the hospital in 1933, and, not being of 'Aryan race' himself, Dr. Helmy was discriminated against and was fired from the hospital in 1938. Despite great danger to himself, Helmy spoke out against Nazi policies and risked his life to hide Dr. Wagshul's mother, stepfather and grandmother. In March 2013, Dr. Helmy became the first Arab to be recognized as "Righteous Among the Nations" by Israel's Yad Vashem.

Fred Wagshul is a practicing pulmonologist in Miamisburg, while Joyce Kamen is a creative communications professional.

Photography by Gayna Bassin.

Dr. Mohamed Helmy

Anna Wagshul

Our chef, Healey-Callahan, served a choice of vegetarian chili or vegetable soup.

There was also corn bread and rolls.

Claire Lee led Birkat HaMazon, Grace after Eating.

Claire Lee, Edie Neusner and Joyce Kamen.

Bobbi Handwerger, Hazak Chair, introduced our guest speaker, Joyce Kamen.

Joyce Kamen told the story with photos and slides in her Powerpoint presentation.

Her husband's adoptive parents, Mollie & Herbert Wagshul.

Anna, Fred's birth mother, with her mother Juliana and grandmother Cecelia Rudnick in Berlin, 1928.

Anna met her husband Henry in a German DP Camp in June, 1947.

Anna was sent to America, but it took another 2 years before Henry could join her.

Joyce points to Dr. Helmy's nephew, Dr. Nasser Kotby, who formally accepted the award from the Israeli Ambassador to Germany, Jeremy Issachof.


Home  |  About Us  |  PrayingLearning  | Doing |  Giving | Calendar | Contact Us | Facebook logo

Copyright © 2019 by Northern Hills Synagogue. All rights reserved.
Please send comments or suggestions to the