In the heart of downtown Manhattan, a massive pink and orange mural celebrates a non-Jewish hero that saved thousands of Jews during the Holocaust.
A world-renowned artist has painted this massive mural to raise awareness about surging antisemitism and spread tolerance between peoples. The mural pays homage to Tibor Baranski, a courageous Hungarian-American who rescued more than 3,000 Jews during the Holocaust.
The street art was purposefully created in New York because of the sharp rise in antisemitism there. According to recent statistics from the NYPD, antisemitic hate crimes in New York City more than doubled in November, compared to the same month last year.
The work was painted by Fernando “SKI” Romero, a Dominican-American artist born and raised in Queens, on the outside of the popular SoHo hotspot, Vig Bar.
SKI has joined with other top urban artists around the world to participate in the “Righteous Among the Nations Global Mural Project,” (also known as Righteous Gentiles) an initiative of Artists4Israel, created in partnership with the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM). The artists paint building-sized murals to honor those who risked their own lives to save Jews during the Holocaust and have already had their works displayed on prominent buildings in Portugal and Greece.
“As a New York-born Dominican non-Jew, I have had the opportunity with A4I to experience something so magical that I would’ve possibly never experienced if not for art,” said SKI. “I am forever grateful to be a part of something bigger and meaningful with such positive effects which I have witnessed firsthand. I look forward to continuing to spread, love, positivity and unity in areas and with people that need it most.”
The mural coincides with the first night of Hanukkah and was followed by a candle-lighting ceremony, led by Rabbi Menachem Creditor.
“The purpose of the project is to force people to interact with the Holocaust, to learn and to find pride in fighting against antisemitism,” said Craig Dershowitz CEO of Artists4Israel.
“The beautiful murals are a psychological trigger.”Craig Dershowitz
Shortly after the mural was revealed, a woman came over to touch and kiss the face of Baranski. Her name is Carol Romeo and her family survived the Holocaust. When she looked up who Tibor Baranski was and what he did, she decided the mural was a holy place. Romeo said, “I never knew he existed. And he lived here in New York. Everyone should know his story.”
“This initiative is about combating antisemitism through art and bridging between communities to push for greater tolerance and understanding,” said CEO of CAM Sacha Roytman Dratwa. “We specifically wanted people from different backgrounds involved in this project to show how we can work, and fight hate together. Bringing this message literally to the streets is one way we can fight the extremists.”
How did Tibor Baranski save Jews?
At just 22, Baranski was studying to be a Catholic priest in Hungary.
As the Nazis occupied Budapest, the young seminary student fast-talked his way into the papal nuncio’s residence and persuaded the Vatican’s representative to let him use official Catholic church resources to save Jews.
Baranski set up safe houses and printed official-looking but fraudulent passes to get Jews out of the country. He borrowed the official diplomatic vehicle, a Rolls Royce, and would show up at Nazi roundups and pull Jews out of the lines.