ISRAEL: “Thank You, Philippines!” (Why Jews have a Close Friendship with Filipinos)

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The Jewish Rescue

In 1939, President Manuel L. Quezon opened the doors of the Philippines to 1,300 Jews escaping the Holocaust in Europe before the war erupted. This started the close friendship of Jews and Filipinos, which is commemorated through the Open Doors Monument in Tel Aviv.

In 2013, a documentary entitled Rescue in the Philippines shared the untold story of this Jewish rescue in Manila. It was heartwarming to hear the stories of Holocaust survivors who were based in Manila and how Filipinos warmly accepted them like their own family. 

Charity Repaid

In November 2013, Danny Pins, who is the son of a Holocaust Survivor in Manila, Margot Casell Pins, joined the American-Jewish Joint Distribution Committee to be the first ones on the ground in Tacloban and help the Typhoon Haiyan Victims.

He wrote a beautiful story in the Wall Street Journal entitled: “A Christmas Story of Philippine Charity Repaid“. I was crying by the time I finished reading the article. 

In 2014, the Israelis also showed their support for our own kababayan Rose Fostanes to win the reality singing competition X Factor Israel. 

Thank you, Philippines!

This 2015, this close Jewish-Filipino friendship is the inspiration behind the Embassy of Israel’s “Thank You, Philippines!” campaign. It started with the launch of the commemorative Philippine-Israel stamp featuring the Open Doors monument.

On February 26 at 7pm, Rose Fostanes is leading the Thank You, Philippines Jazz Fest at the Music Museum to celebrate the historical friendship between Israel and the Philippines.

This year’s Jazz Festival coincides with the commemoration of the 70th year of the end of World War II, as well as the liberation of Manila. It will highlight the Philippines’ role in the rescue of 1,300 Jewish people from the Holocaust.

Join us as we celebrate this Jewish-Filipino friendship in this Free Thank You concert.

(To reserve tickets to the free concert, please call +632 883-9500 or email no later than Monday, 23 February 2015.)

Here are some additional information about the “Thank You, Philippines” Banner Program…

Rescue in the Philippines: Refuge from the Holocaust (Documentary)

Rescue in The Philippines Opening from Three Roads Communications on Vimeo.

Rescue in The Philippines” is a one-hour documentary of the previously untold story of how the five Frieder brothers, Cincinnati businessmen making two-for-a-nickel cigars in pre-WWII Manila, together with Manuel Quezon, the charismatic first president of the Philippines, Paul McNutt, US High Commissioner and former governor of Indiana (preparing for his own presidential campaign) and an ambitious Army Colonel named Dwight Eisenhower – helped 1,200 Jews escape the Nazis and immigrate to the Philippines.

For more info, visit


An Open Door: Jewish Rescue in the Philippines (Movie)

An Open Door is a feature-length documentary on the uplifting story of how a small Asian nation was able to save over 1,300 Jews as they fled the pogroms of Nazi Germany. It is written, produced and directed by award-winning filmmaker Noel M. Izon and co-produced by author Sharon Delmendo. This is the third film in his World War II trilogy Forgotten Stories.

This unique film will explore the rare confluence of the Pacific and European theaters. It juxtaposes momentous events in history such as the passage of the Nuremberg Laws on September 15, 1935and, exactly two months later, the inauguration of the Philippines as a Commonwealth of the United States. One door closes and another opens.

An Open Door is the story of a deep and improbable, international friendship borne of common adversity and intense love for freedom. Together, Filipinos and Jews struggled, endured and ultimately prevailed against overwhelming odds.

Noel M. Izon is an independent filmmaker based in the Washington, DC area. He was born in Manila in the first year of the Philippine independence after World War II and is now an American citizen.

For more info, visit


Accounts of Holocaust Survivors in Manila

Press Conference 10 February 2015

Hans Hoeflien 

We left Cologne Germany on a half hours notice in 1933. My dad had been accused of having murdered two Nazis. We went to Madrid where my father represented Deutz; the same company he had worked for in Germany. In 1936 the Spanish civil war began and my mother and I went o Germany. My father went to Portugal. Two weeks after our arrival in Germany we were told they would arrest my mother to make my father come back. We immediately went to Portugal to meet my dad. In 1937 his company told him that there was a war coming and they were going to send him to the Philippines. We arrived 1n August and my dad had his office at the Phillippine Engineering company on Calle Raon. They were the Deutz agents. In 1940 my father got his parents out of Germany and brought them to the Philippines. They came via the Transsiberian railway to Vladivostock and from there they went to Japan and to Manila. They were true holocaust survivors and must have been some of the last jews to get our of Germany. I went to the US in 1949 to study and spent two years in the US Army. I came to the Philippines several times on business as the company I worked for supplied pumps to many industrial projects.

Ralph Preiss

I was born in Breslau, Germany in 1930. (It is now Wroclaw, Poland).

My father was a Jewish physician working under socialized medicine in a little farming town, Rosenberg O/S (now Olesno). When Hitler came to power in 1933, he fired all Jewish professionals (teachers, lawyers, doctors, dentists, engineers, scientists) working for the government. But since there were not enough replacements available, my father did not lose his job till the spring of 1938. By then, the Jews that had managed to get out of Germany before then had used up the quotas of immigrants to other lands so that there were only openings in Shanghai and the Philippines left for us to go to. My father was 1 of 13 physicians given permission to come to the Philippines (400 had applied!) We arrived in Manila March 23, 1939.     

The Philippine medical lobby managed to pass a law that only Filipinos and Americans could practice medicine in the PI… so my father could not get his medical license.

Since we were not allowed to bring money out of Germany, my father bought the latest electric and electronic medical equipment and microscopes and brought those out with the idea of using them in the PI, and sure enough a new hospital, Mercy Hospital on Taft Ave. Extension was just about to open and could use the equipment my father brought. That was his first job, and he taught the other doctors and technicians to use the equipment. I went to school at De La Salle.

In 1940, my father became manager of a soft-drink factory in Lilio, Laguna. But I continued my studies at La Salle, living in the home of Margot Cassel’s parents till December 8, 1941, when I joined my parents in Laguna. My playmates included Frank Ephraim and Hans Hoeflein.

Having an expired German passport permitted us to live out of Japanese concentration camps during the war. My father moved the soft-drink factory to San Pablo City, and we continued bottling soft-drinks during the war, using native ingredients and essences  bought on the black market. In 1943 I had to go back to Manila to study for my bar-mitzvah and during that time lived with Cantor Cysner and returned to La Salle for half a year. At the end of the year I moved back to San Pablo and worked in the factory or helped deliver soft-drinks to our distributor, Mr. Malvar, the son of the last Filipino revolutionary fighting the Americans to give up.

We survived liberation by joining guerillas on Mt Banahaw for a few months. After the war I completed my high-school studies in San Pablo and enrolled at the UP studying engineering in 1948. When our engineering building (Quezon hut in Diliman) was destroyed by a twister in 1949, I came to the USA to continue my studies at MIT…where I met up with Hans Hoeflein again. I had the intention of returning to Manila to work for Meralco but the Korean war broke out and I got interested in computers so stayed on for a Masters degree and followed my professor to the U of Conn. where I met my wife, Marcia, and we got married right after graduation and I started working at IBM designing large high-speed computers. We have 4 daughters and 8 grandchildren. I retired in 1991 and have been enjoying children, grandchildren and now a great-grandson since.

Margot Casell Pins 

Biography- briefly:  I was born in Breslau, Germany (Wroclov today) 1931.
Attended Jewish nursery -second grade

Left for Philippines Oct. 1938 at age 7, attended Sta. Escolastica grade 1+2.
Attended PWU 3-7 grades. Including the Japanese occupation!
Lived through the battle for the liberation of Manila, our yard turned out to be the front line for the battle at the time

Attended American High school 9th, 10th, 12th grades (planned to study in US since I had met my future husband as an American soldier when I was 15!)
Left for the USA Sept. 1949, attended Barnard College, N.Y. 1949-51
Got married, moved to Chicago got Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education

Gave birth to son Danny Pins (Works for American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which will receive award for its help in typhoon related projects from Phil. govt.)

Followed by two daughters: Judy and Michal. Now have 8 grandchildren, 1 great grand daughter 

Immigrated to Israel 1974, was widowed in 1978. -Worked for Israel Ass. for Community Centers till 1991, Created Early childhood services  in community centers around the country, day care, toddler care and family day care. Helped create a post BA program in early childhood at the Hebrew University with an interdisciplinary approach. Pioneered the idea of professional training for work with children 0-3 years of age as essential.  (Today they grant a Masters Degree).

Went to Uganda to help women set up group care programs for babies and young children to free up women power to work (1991) follow-up visit in a year.
1994 Went to Rwanda -set up training program for staff in working with child trauma victims of the genocide between Hutus and Tutsis.
1995, 1996 return visits to help staff train more staff
1996-1998  Headed and managed The Congregation called Mevakshe Derech “Searching for the Way” a moderately oriented religious congregation in Jerusalem.
2001 remarried and now am a Kestenbaum.


OPEN DOORS Monument in Tel Aviv

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“The Philippines held out a promise of a safe haven from Nazi Oppression, offering survival from the mass murder of the Jewish people in Europe.” – Frank Abraham, author of the book: Escape to Manila: From Nazi Tyranny to Japanese Terror 

OPEN DOORS by Luis “Junyee” E. Yee, Jr, Filipino Artist 

This monument is a testament to the open door policy of the Philippine Commonwealth under President Manuel L. Quezon. The three open doors in increasing heights symbolize the courage and humanitarian deeds of the Filipino people in welcoming the jews escaping the Holocaust in Europe in 1939.

The triangular patterns of the open doors represent the triangles of the Philippine flag and the star of David that were joined to mark the close and friendly relations between the Republic of the Philippines and State of Israel as the two Nations celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Establish of Diplomatic Relations in August 2007. 

The light represents the sun that brought the hope and the warm hospitality of the Filipino people as they welcomed the jews in 1939. The Doors are painted brown to represent the Filipinos Malay race. 

OPEN DOORS Monument Israel-13.jpg

THE FOOTPRINTS (21 June 2009)

1). George Loewenstein was among the thousands of Jews who sought refuge in the Philippines in 1939. He now lives in the U.S. His footprints are carved on the floor of the first door.

2). Max Weissler arrived in the Philippines in 1941 at the age of 11 years. He was a refugee from Germany and grew up in the Philippines. Max now lives in Israel. His footprints are carved on the floor of the second door.

3). Doryliz Goffer is a 10-year-old Filipino-Israeli born in the Philippines. She is a granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. Her footprints represent the continuing friendship between the Republic of the Philippines and the State of Israel. Her footprints are carved on the floor of the third door.  


A Christmas Story of Philippine Charity Repaid by Danny Pins  

A Christmas Story Danny Pins


My mother and grandparents were among the more than 1,300 European Jews offered safe haven from the Nazis by Philippine President Manuel Quezon in the late 1930s. The Philippines was then an American protectorate, and the rescue effort resulted from cooperation between Quezon, the family of Manila-based Jewish cigar manufacturer Alex Frieder, U.S. High Commissioner to the Philippines Paul V. McNutt and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), a global relief agency that aids Jews and others in danger.

This little-known chapter in World War II history was told in a 2012 documentary, “Rescue in the Philippines,” but was also given new life in November 2013, when Jewish and Israeli aid organizations mobilized to support hundreds of thousands of Filipinos devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.

One week after the storm made landfall, I set off from Israel, joining my JDC team to assess our emergency work—delivering food, fresh water, shelter supplies, medicine and medical equipment—and ensure that the needs on the ground were met.

Read More: WSJ | A Christmas Story of Philippine Charity Repaid


Open Door Commemorative Stamp

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Philippines-Israel Joint Commemorative Stamp launched January 27, 2015.


Jazz Festival features Rose Fostanes

Rose Fostanes 1

Rose Fostanes, the first grand champion of X Factor Israel, will be the main guest of the “Thank You, Philippines Friendship Concert” as part of the Philippine International Jazz and Arts Festival. The free concert will be on February 26, 2015, Thursday, 7:30 p.m. at the Music Museum, Greenhills, San Juan City. It will also include Arthur Manuntag and Laarni Lozada as special guests.

Fostanes, the winner of reality singing competition X Factor Israel 2013, has captured the audience with her strong and powerful voice. She belted out Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” – a videoke favorite, and has inspired many Filipinos to pursue their dreams. 

The former Filipina caregiver slowly rose to fame and last year received the Bagong Bayani award for Culture and the Arts.

Fostanes will be one of the special guests to commemorate the historical friendship between Israel and the Philippines under the banner program “Thank You, Philippines”, which includes several cultural and academic events.

This year’s Jazz Festival coincides with the commemoration of the 70th year of the end of World War II and the liberation of Manila, highlighting the role of the Philippines in the rescue of 1,300 Jewish people from the Holocaust.

Referring to the unique story of Rose Fostanes, Ambassador Effie Ben Matityau commented that Rose stands as a bridge between Israel and the Philippines whose friendship dates back to the noble deed of former President Manuel Quezon, and the Philippines’ support to the establishment of the state of Israel.

“Rose Fostanes works as singer in Israel. She has a very special story – a caregiver who from a very humble position became a superstar. She is a phenomenon and an ambassador of goodwill,” he said.


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To reserve tickets to the free concert, please call +632 883-9500 or email no later than Monday, 23 February 2015.

Note: Reservation will be on a first come, first served basis to limited seats.

For more information, you may contact:

Carina Roncesvalles
Press and Information Officer
Embassy of Israel
Telephone: +632 883-9500 loc. 504
FacebookIsrael in the Philippines and Effie Ben Matityau, Ambassador of Israel to the Philippines
Twitter@IsraelinPH and @AmbBenMatityau


Live an Awesome Life,


Disclosure: I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights. Read Our Awesome Planet Complete Disclosure Policy here.  

P.S. Thank you to the people of Israel for helping in Typhoon Haiyan! We will never forget your kindness and support!

Related Post: Hella Tel Aviv | Typhoon Haiyan: 150 Israeli soldiers, 100 tons of Israeli aid en route to Philippines

5 thoughts on “ISRAEL: “Thank You, Philippines!” (Why Jews have a Close Friendship with Filipinos)

  1. What a great story! Mabuhay! Shalom!
    I kived in the Philippines for three years. Dull moments were extremely rare. I had never heard this story before of the rescue of these Jews, welcoming them to the Philippines. I came across the Rescue in the Philippines movie on Amazon Prime and watched it. Very, very interesting. It makes me want to learn more about Philippine history and culture.

  2. I’m living now in the US. When I was in the Philippines…I attended the catholic school which teaches the affinity of the Jewish faith to the catholic faith. We’ve been taught that Our Lord Jesus Christ was a Jew. So our God is Jewish and Israelis are the Chosen People of God. Why so many died in the hands of Europeans? The other countries that are majority Catholics condemned Jews as the killer of Christ except the Philippines. My school never mentioned about hating Jews until I arrived in America. Our culture never engrained hatred towards Muslims and Jews. If the Japanese never invaded the Philippines, we could have saved millions of Jews to settle in Mindanao Island. Imagine 3 most powerful religions in the world in one country Judaism, Islam, and Catholicism living side by side. That would be awesome !!!!

  3. Up to this day…I’ve been wondering why hatred for the Jews are still capsulated in other people’s mind? They haven’t done anything but gave us the Lord, Jesus Christ. The Kingdom of Judea was actually stretches from Syria and Lebanon. Judea is the old name of Israel. Jerusalem is its capital. The Jews had been in this place thousand of years ago. They fought the Roman army but was displaced by the Romans for revolting. So some of these Arabs are sitting on Israeli land. Turkey used to be Constantinople of the Eastern Roman Empire even before Islam moved in. This is history the wordJerusalem is Jewish in nature. The city of King David. Capital of Israel.

  4. Few Jews I knew in the Philippines: Bichara family owned the movie theater in Naga City in 1970s; Pinoy singer and songwriter Mike Hanopol whom I met in 2016 and I gave to him my Hebrew book the Chumash – Moses 5 books. Malu Meir, Pinay. In 2020, during the Jewish feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits and Shavuot (Pentecost) I come to know more of the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua Jesus Christ, and a couple of Messianic Jewish Rabbis, they are on fire for Yeshua. Shalom.

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