BESA: The Promise weaves Albania’s heroism in WWII through the vérité journeys of two men.

One is Norman Gershman, a renowned Jewish-American photographer determined to document first-person accounts of the Albanian Muslims who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.

The other is Rexhep Hoxha, a Muslim-Albanian. Rexhep must fulfill the promise made to a Jewish family his father rescued during the Holocaust and return to them a set of Hebrew books they left behind.

And Rexhep’s promise is more than words — it’s part of his besa — an honor code that, among other things, pledges all Albanians to offer safe harbor to refugees.

With Norman’s help, Rexhep embarks on a journey to Bulgaria and Israel. His quest brings about an epiphany that he is part of this Jewish family — even as his Islamic faith, long supressed under decades of communism, is affirmed. Through the stories of Rexhep and his fellow Muslims, we discover a nation of everyday heroes far removed from the narrative of violent Islam and anti-Semitism that’s so often portrayed in media today. And, through the experiences of Norman Gershman and the first-person accounts of Jewish survivors, we hear stories of gratitude to Muslim rescuers that have gone unheard for almost seventy years.

More than seven years in the making, Besa: The Promise presents a powerful human drama compounded by a devastating twist. It is a story that that bridges generations and religions … uniting fathers and sons … Muslims and Jews.

Foundation Donors

National Endowment for the Humanities

The Eye Contact Foundation

The Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation
The Righteous Persons Foundation


Bankers Petroleum
Seeds of Peace, Paul Bermstein
The Alvin and Peggy Brown Family Foundation
The Mc Bride Family Foundation
The Steinhardt Foundation

Individual Donors

Rabbi Herb Brock & Congregation Mishkan Israel
Cindy Christian
Patrick Crowley
Susan Crowley
Joan Duplechin
Nanne Davis Eliot
Donna & Wit Foster
Richard Frankel & Sheryl Seigel
Greg Gay & Marlene Liddell
Neil Gladstein & Lynn Rhinehart
Heather Harrell
Steve Livengood
Kathleen Loehr
Ralph Philips & Alice Hall
Victor Romero
Richard Romero & Marjorie Lockwood
Carol Seifert
Lois & Ted Solinski
Joseph Solinski & Family
Laurie Solnik
Claire Southerlin
Steve Stahl
Kris Swanson & Roy Mustelier

Rexep with books