WASHINGTON–President Barack Obama visits the Great Synogogue of Stockholm on Wednesday afternoon, hours before the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
Obama and Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt will pay a tribute to Raoul Wallenberg at the historic Great Synagogue for his work in saving Jews during the Holocaust.
Obama departs for Sweden today on a swing that will take him to St. Petersburg for the G-20 Summit in Russia.
An administration official said at a briefing last week, “the President will participate in that celebration of Wallenberg’s life. And, as you will remember, he is the famed Swedish diplomat who rescued tens of thousands of Jews from Nazi-occupied Hungary. That event will take place at the Great Synagogue of Stockholm, the heart of Sweden’s Jewish community.”
In July, 2012, Obama signed the Raoul Wallenberg Centennial Celebration Act, awarding Wallenberg posthumously the Congressional Gold Medal. The White House said at the time, “the award, which is the highest civilian honor given by the U.S. Congress, marks Wallenberg’s “achievements and heroic actions during the Holocaust.” 2012 marked the 100th anniversary of Wallenberg’s birth.
The U.S. Ambassador to Sweden is Mark Brzezinski; his wife Natalia, is a Chicago South Sider, growing up on 59th and Damen. When I was in Stockholm in July, I visited with them at their U.S. Ambassadorial residence. Amb. Brezezinski pointed out the horse chestnut tree the embassy planted last year near the residence to honor Wallenberg.