One-of-kind monument rededicated at Wilmington JCC

One of the two new trees planted in the renovated Garden of the Righteous Gentiles at the Siegel Jewish Community Center in Wilmington which was rededicated during a ceremony Sunday, April 7, 2013. Originally dedicated in 1983, this Garden of the Righteous was the first monument outside Israel to honor Christians who helped save Jewish lives during the Holocaust. ( CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer )

Wilmington artist Francisca Verdoner Kan and her daughter Elly Kan Alexander had special reason to admire a new tree in the Garden of the Righteous Gentiles outside the Jewish Community Center in Wilmington this weekend.

Kan, a docent at the Delaware Art Museum, dedicated the tree in honor of Amsterdam's Artis Royal Zoo, where she spent time as a girl hiding from the Nazis in her native Netherlands. As an adult, she learned that the zoo also hid hundreds of other Jews. The sapling was one of two new trees dedicated Sunday to complement the original 13 planted in 1981 that now tower above the garden.

Rededicated Sunday in a ceremony attended by 300 people, it is the first monument in the United States to Christians who risked their lives and their families' lives to save Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe.

- Clem Murray, Inquirer staff photographer