Professor to discuss 'Jewish James Bond' as foundation's series starts Jan. 3

December 16, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A Penn State professor's book talk, "Jewish James Bond and Other Heroes,” will kick off the 2021 event season for the Sousa Mendes Foundation at 4 p.m. Jan. 3.

During the hour-long virtual event — which is free, open to the public and requires registration — Boaz Dvir, aassistant professor of journalism, will discuss several characters from his critically acclaimed book, "Saving Israel: The Unknown Story of Smuggling Weapons and Winning a Nation’s Independence" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020). The 320-page nonfiction work tells the story of World War II aviators who carried out a secret operation in the late 1940s. They include the "Jewish James Bond," Yehuda Arazi; the operation’s chief pilot, Sam Lewis; and its flight instructor, Elynor Rudnick.

“Our Sunday afternoon programs highlight the stories of heroes who helped shape history with their actions,” said the foundation’s president, Olivia Mattis, who will moderate the panel discussion. “This program will illustrate the determination of the post-Holocaust generation to establish a Jewish state as a safe haven for survivors of the Nazi genocide.”

Joining Dvir on the panel will be Arazi’s grandson, who bears his name, and Lewis’ daughter, Sandra Brown, who was a teenager during the operation.

“I’m honored to share the stage, so-to-speak, with family members of Arazi and Lewis, two bigger-than-life fighters who helped save the lives of thousands,” said Dvir, an award-winning nonfiction storyteller who has directed and produced documentaries for PBS, The New York Times, and other outlets. “It’s a pleasure to team up again with Olivia and the Sousa Mendes Foundation in telling the often little-known stories of rescuers.”

Dvir details Arazi and Lewis’ adventures in "Saving Israel."

“I have felt honored my whole life being named after my grandfather,” Arazi’s grandson said. “It has been my privilege to continuously learn of his many contributions.”

Founded in 2010, the Sousa Mendes Foundation is dedicated to perpetuating the memory of the Holocaust rescuer Aristides de Sousa Mendes and to teaching the importance of moral courage in a civilized world. Named “Organization of the Year” in 2012 by The Portuguese Tribune, the foundation is engaged in a worldwide search for families who escaped Nazi-occupied Europe through Portugal.

Last Updated December 16, 2020