Image of Memorial Invitaion
"This memorial tablet was dedicated the 28th of Nissan -
April 13, 1980 and it is a tablet dedicated to the hometown of
Scara-Rafalovka and it will serve as a fund for the benefit of
some activities in the synagogue. I am going to read a free translation
from the Hebrew in which this introduction was originally made.
Dear Rabbi Green, Dr. Schuman, ladies and gentlemen. In the town
of Rafalovka where I was born and grew up there was an old Jewish
settlement from before the times of (the tyrant) Bogdan Chmielnicki
(mid 1600s). In the thirties of the present twentieth century,
was found a recorded history of the Jewish kehilla (community)
of Rafalovka. There are many generations in the few centuries
before the second world war.
The name of the town is taken from the name of the landowner.
His Polish name was Rafval, and therefore, the town was Rafalovka.
They were one of the families of the aristocracy, the Polish
aristocracy, which had all the involvements in the area. From
my grandfather Avraham I heard stories about the Kosinary (Kosak)...
which fought with forks and scythes in the uprising against the
Car in the 19th century when Poland was divided and they had...
the Kosinary is from the word Kosak which is a fight... so they
were equipped, the peasants that didn't have any carbines, and
they were equipped with primitive implements of farming and they
were fighting in the few uprisings at the end for the liberation
of Poland which was, of course, a success.
The town was located on the river Styr, and it was a place where
many foreign armies crossed there and back, from east to west,
and was of a strategic importance. The Jewish town was constantly
being, in these military operations, constantly being demolished
and built again. During my youth the Jewish population of Rafalovka
consisted of between eight and ninety families, about a total
of 350 persons.
Life of the kehilla:
In Rafalovka there were two synagogues in Rafalovka, both Chassidic
ones, one for the Chassidem of L'ubesov, and one for the
Chassidem of Stepan. But the tolerance was such that I
remember it came the time to elect a new rabbi, after the old
one died, there was elected a mismagid who was greatly
appreciated and loved by the congregation. Majority of the young
people belonged to a youth movement, a Zionist youth movement,
mainly to be part of the shomer hat zair (left wing)...
There were very intensive life which was on a voluntary basis
in the chader Rafalovka which the Jewish children learned
torah and Judaism was for effect a modern chader that taught
general subjects in the Hebrew language.
Between the teachers that were teaching the subjects the students
in the seminars in Vilma which learned the Hebrew language
even then in the Sephardic intonation. The chader were
in the afternoons and during periods of vacation, after all the
children finished their studies in the compulsory Polish in Polish
elementary school. Majority of the Jewish students were - used
to be - the outstanding students also in the government, the public,
schools. And now all the children without exception learned a
minimum of 7 years which was the compulsory term for elementary
education. Between the other institutions that this interesting
information was a library which contained many books in Hebrew
and Yiddish which were contributed by the Jewish population.
The library had also a circle, a literary circle in which there
were varied discussions on Hebrew and general literature in which
the grown-ups also participated... they used to take a book by
Dostoyevsky, this I remember, where there was a crime and a punishment
and there was a jury and they were prosecuted and everything else
like a regular trial and the population participated.
There was also a theater - we are all talking about Jewish - we
are all talking 80 to 90 Jewish families which had these activities,
was a Jewish theater which used to have performances in Hebrew
with a content of Zionism and the aspiration toward Israel. And
the performance we used to have in the public hall that was the
only hall, and there were one or two a minimum per year, except
the ones that used to come from the neighboring towns.
The Jewish youth were searching for their identity as Jews and
Zionists and went to groups of hach shera and some of them
returned, which many were existing under the Polish. As a matter
of fact, Moshe Resnick spent many years in hach shera and
the framework of the betar (right wing) movement. They
were preparing themselves for aliyah and for Zionist fulfillment.
There were a few years - there was a kibbutz for hach shera
near our hometown in a village called Riskovola. The chalutzim
over there worked in the sawmill and many were members of
the youth from our hometown. During these years before the war,
many young people put all the efforts regardless of how hard it
was and some of them wound up getting certificates and making
aliyah to Israel.
Next I dealt with the time of the Shoah:
I might point out that this information is based on information
supplied by my friends and other people from my hometown because
during this German occupation I myself was in the army and I did
not witness the following facts. But they are very authentic.
The German occupation of Rafalovka was unimaginable suffering.
There were pogroms of the Ukrainian bandits. There were payments
of contribution in gold, silver, and everything that is of value.
Very hard work, very little food and in the end they were all
put in a ghetto in the next town which was 12 kilometers from
Rafalovka. It was called Novo-Rafalovka as compared to Stala-Rafalovka,
all of Rafalovka which is the hometown I am talking about.
On the 28th of August 1942 the ghetto was surrounded and all the
Jewish population, men, women, and children, had to leave their
houses and they were all being led to Socha-vola where
there was one big ditch, was dug only a few days before that.
At the head of this procession were going the rabbinim of the
different towns which contained, because this ghetto contained
all the surrounding towns. They were reading.... surrounded by
Ukrainian police and soldiers of the Gestapo. They were brought
to this ditch, they were all asked to undress, and they were all
shot without any rachmonas. As an addition to whatever
I read, I want to say that among the people in the ghetto was
also my grandfather Avraham, my mother Bat-Sheva, my sister Zipporah
(Faiga). My grandfather was old, he was in the middle of the
nineties, plus a few other people, so they were supplied by a
cart, they couldn't walk the distance from the ghetto to the ditch
and they were transported on a cart.
A small amount of Jews managed to escape from the surrounding
ghetto and they came to - they ran away to the surrounding woods.
Also there they suffered from hunger and from cold and from constant
exposure to being turned in. Many of them were caught and were
turned in to the German and Ukrainian and they were killed.
The survivors of Rafalovka were from the first of the partisans
in the district and among them were my friends Pesa Bindas, barucha,
who was killed in one of the fights against the Germans. A little
bit later groups of young people were joined the partisans and
they contributed a great effort to the fight against the German
Nazis. After the district was liberated by the Soviet soldiers,
we of the youth continued to fight as soldiers in the Polish and
Russian army against the Germans, and came up to Germany itself
and fought until the end of the Second World War.
After that I dealt with after the Shoah:
The small remainder from the Shoah which survived after
the Second World War mainly came to Israel and they were among
the first builders of the new established state. Among them important
people in the field of education and which are well known to a
lot of population in Israel, among them Jacob Serib who was the
general manger of the education department. His son was not born
in Rafalovka but he is form Rafalovka. He is a member of the
parliament and is very prominent in many fields and is in the
opposition labor party and he would be their candidate for minister
if they come to power.
People that came from Rafalovka, those who came to Israel when
the state was on the way to being built and when the state was
born already, after the Shoah, contributed a great deal
to the building of Israel and to the defense of its borders.
And I would like to mention at this time my friend and my pal
from my youth, Martin Bass, who fell in defense of the country.
In my opinion there is a connection between what I said in here
and a typical shtetl, one from the hundreds which were
in the Jewish world, and they don't exist anymore, and between
this which we are dedicating today in Jerusalem. Jerusalem was
always the center, which was the spiritual life of the Jewish
population of Rafalovka. We can say that regardless, the physical
existence was appalling, that their hearts, both morning and evening,
on Saturday and holiday, in celebrations and in tragedy, their
hearts were always in Israel.
Secondly, there would be a great satisfaction if they would have
known that the Jerusalem of which they dreamt about it all those
years is now the capitol of the new state of Israel. The tablet
that we are dedicating today is not only a remembrance for a terrible
period, but is also a dedication of a symbol of the fulfillment
of the Jewish dream which makes whole the Shoah. We hope
for the great beginning that is going to be for Israel and for