Israela Hargil (Harnik) was born in Brody, Poland, in 1938. Her parents were teachers and musicians: her mother played the piano, and her father played the violin and taught in an elementary school. Brody was occupied by the Germans on 1 July 1941. On 15 July, some 250 Jewish scholars, including Israela’s mother, were summoned by the Gestapo to the town square. There they were tortured for two days, and then murdered. Their bodies were thrown into pits next to the Jewish cemetery.
On 1 January 1943, the 6,000 Jews of Brody were concentrated in a ghetto. Israela fled the ghetto and hid in the home of a family friend, Jacenty Miklaszewski, his wife Maria and their daughter, Wladyslawa. They changed her name to Eva Miklaszewska. “I called them ‘Uncle’ and ‘Aunt,’” relates Israela. “I had a cover story: I was a family member who had come to them after my parents were killed in the bombings.”
On the eve of her journey to Krakow with the Miklaszewskis Israela visited her father, who was hiding in a bunker in a nearby village. When she parted from him, she was forbidden from telling him that they were leaving Brody. In Krakow, she lived with the Miklaszewskis. She was sent to a nursery school run by nuns, and walked about using the false identity of a Christian girl. On 19 January 1945 Krakow was liberated by the Red Army.
Israela’s father fled the bunker and joined the Red Army. Following the war, some four years after they were separated, he found his daughter.
“In February 1945 I left the Miklaszewskis. I parted from my local Catholic priest in Krakow. He did not know I was Jewish, and drew me a sketch in pencil in my journal of the head of Jesus with a crown of thorns and drops of blood. As a dedication he wrote: ‘To my outstanding pupil, Ewunia (Ewa), with affection.’ When he parted from me he said: ‘You can always turn to Jesus. He will always help you.’ At that time, I was already a member of the Zionist youth movement, ‘Gordonia’…”
After spending a short time in a Hebrew school and the Gordonia youth movement, Israela and her father immigrated to Israel in November 1948. Her father, Kalman, died some four years later. After spending a short time in Tel Aviv, Israela moved to Kibbutz Ramat Yochanan. She spent her entire life immersed in art, and her creations have been displayed in many exhibitions. Some of her artworks are in the archives of Yad Vashem’s Museum of Holocaust Art.
Yad Vashem recognized Israela’s rescuers, Jacenty, Maria and Wladyslawa Miklaszewski, as Righteous Among the Nations. Israela kept in contact with them and today, after their deaths, she is still in touch with Wladyslawa’s two children.
Israela is married to Dori and they have 3 daughters and 5 grandchildren.