A campaign of solidarity
Missing Pages is a nationwide campaign to voice unity with Holocaust Memorial Day. It highlights the untold stories of solidarity, friendship and compassion between Muslims and Jews - stories of hope that are a beacon for our future.
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Tour the Besa Photo Essay and discover the stories of courageous families who saved and protected Jews fleeing Nazi terror in WWII. Click Here
The campaign aims to nurture a greater bridge of understanding and harmony between two great faith communities. In line with Holocaust Memorial Day’s theme of ‘Untold Stories’, Missing Pages sheds light on the largely unknown accounts of solidarity between Muslims and Jews. It is through these historic stories that we may encourage hope for our future.
Norman H Gershman
Norman H Gershman is an American Jewish photographer and Founder of the Eye Contact Foundation which promotes understanding and tolerance through portrait photography. Norman travelled to Albania to photograph Muslim families who rescued Jews in World War II. His six year odyssey pays tribute to those who fulfilled ‘Besa’ – a code of honour in Albania that instructs them to protect others from danger at all costs.
The main focus of the campaign was the hosting of American Jewish photographer, Norman H Gershman, as he toured the UK to talk about his book “Besa: Muslims who saved Jews in World War II”. Norman undertook an exclusive university campus tour every day during the week of 24th – 28th January 2011, when student Islamic and Jewish societies came together to co-host each event.
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The Besa book can be purchased at Amazon - Click Here
Norman’s photographic book ‘Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews in World War II’, features poignant images of Albanian Muslim families who sheltered Jews from the Nazis. Each image is accompanied by a powerful story told by the person in the photograph. At a time when conflict between Muslims and Jews attracts the attention of the media, it is heartening to be reminded that mutual aid and friendship also have characterized the relationship. The story told through the photographs of Norman H. Gershman is especially inspiring, because the Muslims who saved Jews in World War II did so at enormous risk to their own lives.- President Jimmy Carter
A book launch formed part of the event at the City Circle in London on Friday 28th January 2011 where Norman signed copies of his work.
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Photos from exhibition
The exhibition was on display for the first time in the UK at the House of Commons. Click Here to view images from the opening ceremony.
Photos by Javed Mohammed
Exploring Islam Foundation and Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Israel, sponsored the exhibition "BESA: A Code of Honour – Muslim Albanians who Rescued Jews during the Holocaust", to come for the first time to the UK. This travelling exhibition features a selection of poignant images by Norman H Gershman and the powerful stories behind them.
The Besa exhibition has been on display in more than seventy five locations all over the world including the UN, The Council of Europe and was shown for the first time in Britain at the House of Commons. The opening ceremony took place on Monday 17th January at 11.30am in the Upper Waiting Hall of the House of Commons with guests from the Muslim and Jewish communities.
The exhibition then travelled to the London Jewish Cultural Centre from 26th January – 1st February 2011, and then to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
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Watch the trailer
Watch the exclusive trailer of the film ‘Besa:The Promise’. Click here.
Afeature documentary entitled “Besa: The Promise” reveals the untold story of the people of Albania who saved the lives of nearly two thousand Jews during World War II. Witness accounts, personal photographs and archival film are intertwined through the verité journeys of two men: Norman H. Gershman, the American Jewish photographer determined to honour Albanians who defied the Nazis armed only with their honour code of besa; and Rexhep Hoxha, a Muslim-Albanian toy shop owner who must fulfil his father’s besa to the Jewish family his father sheltered sixty years before – by returning three precious books entrusted to him by the Jewish family. With its powerful message of courage and unity, “Besa – The Promise” challenges the prevailing narrative of Jewish-Muslim relations by revealing an authentic yet almost unknown history of comity and mutual respect.
This edit in progress was shown at the School of Oriental and African Studies on Wednesday 26th January 2011.
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Stories of Coexistence
The Encyclopaedia Judaica states that the Muslim rule in Andalusia was the ‘Golden Age of Jewish Culture’. “Life under Muslim rule was one of great opportunity in comparison to that under prior Christian Visigoths, as testified by the influx of Jews from abroad. To Jews throughout the Christian and Muslim worlds, Iberia was seen as a land of relative tolerance and opportunity...the Sephardim found themselves enriched culturally, intellectually, and religiously.”