Presentation of the medal and certificate to the daughters of Feodor Mikhailichenko. From right to left: the daughters of the rescuer - Yelena Belayaeva and Yulia Selutina, Chairman of the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous Among the Nations
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04 August 2009
"I remember my separation from Feodor with anguish, primarily because of the knowledge that I owe him my life and that he risked his life for me numerous times. What I wouldn't give to meet him and grant him the title of "Righteous Among the Nations" ..."
Excerpt from "Do Not Lay Your Hand on the Boy", by Rabbi Israel Meir Lau
On Tuesday, August 4, 2009, Yad Vashem posthumously honored Feodor Mikhailichenko from Russia as Righteous Among the Nations for rescuing Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council, during the Holocaust. The rescuer’s two daughters, Yulia Selutina and Yelena Belayaeva, arrived specially from Russia to accept the certificate and medal on their late father’s behalf. Present at the ceremony were: Minister of Public Diplomacy Yuli Edelstein, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Supreme Court Justice (ret.) and Chairman of the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous Among the Nations Justice Yaacov Turkel, and Russian Ambassador to Israel Piotr Vladimirovich Stegniy.
Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council, Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, said: “Feodor was my only protector during my time in Buchenwald. My life depended upon him. He would steal potatoes, cook soup for me, and made me earmuffs. Every night he would pass by my bunk to make sure that I didn’t forget to put on my earmuffs. My entire life I searched for him, I never forgot him, not even for a day.”
“Feodor’s daughters came to my home for dinner. After dinner many members of my family came to my home from all over the country. Boys, girls, in-laws, grandchildren, great-grandchildren… a mob of people… I told them: Look, all of this is due to your father.”
Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev spoke during the ceremony: “Feodor acted according to the supreme human command and made the choice, the choice between good and evil, evil and life.”
Minister of Public Diplomacy Yuli Edelstein added: “though he was definitely unaware of the Mishnaic statement ‘He who saves one life from amongst Israel – it is as if he has saved the entire world,’ Feodor certainly fulfilled the saying and saved the life of a future great leader.”
Yulia Selutina, daughter of Righteous Among the Nations Feodor Mikhailichenko, told how her father searched until the day of his death for ‘Lulek’ (Rabbi Lau’s nickname). She said at the end of her speech: “Thank you to the State of Israel and the Jewish people for commemorating the memory of our father.”
Click here for the story of Rabbi Israel Meir Lau’s rescue by Feodor Mikhailichenko.
Approximately 23,000 people have been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations, including 164 rescuers from Russia. Click here for more information about the Righteous Among the Nations program.