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Seven Righteous Among the Nations from Ukraine and Belarus to be Honored at Yad Vashem

13 July 2004

A ceremony posthumously honoring seven Righteous Among the Nations from Ukraine and Belarus will take place at Yad Vashem tomorrow. The ceremony will take place at 11:30 in the Education Center in the Valley of Communities, followed by the unveiling of the Righteous’ names in the Garden of the Righteous. The ceremony will be conducted in Hebrew and Russian.

Background Information on the Righteous who will be Recognized Tomorrow

Stefan and Anna Chaikovski saved seven people, including Mordechai Halpern and Rachel Heled, who now reside in Israel and will be present at the ceremony.

In 1941 the Germans occupied Buczacz, Poland (now in Ukraine) and established the ghetto the following year. In 1943, suviving Jews attempted to escape. After the sixth and final aktion, Rachel Heled, her parents and aunt, as well as her cousin Mordechai Halpern and his parents, escaped to the surrounding fields. Stefan Chaikovski, a Ukrainian farmer, happened upon the group while they were hiding, and brought them to a barn near his home. Stefan and his wife Anna hid the seven members of the Heled-Halpern family under the haystacks in their barn for eight months, and provided them with shelter and food for no compensation. “He didn’t know us before he met us; we couldn't offer him any money since we had been robbed of all our possessions… I think he did it out of love of his fellow man. I have no other explanation…” (from the testimony of Mordechai Halperin).

Stefan and Anna had four daughters, one of whom, Miroslava Luchka, will attend the ceremony tomorrow and receive the medal and certificate on behalf of her late parents.

Nadezhda Makrushits (1900-1941) hid five Jews in her house. She worked as a nurse in the hospital in Minsk. During the course of her work stole identity papers of deceased patients and passed them on to Jews and others who were persecuted by the Nazis. In December 1941, Nadezhda was arrested by the Gestapo while at work in the hospital. A month later she was executed. The identities of the five people she hid are known to Yad Vashem, but it is likely that a number of other Jews were helped by Nadezhda although their identities are not known to us. The certificate and medal will be presented to her granddaughter Nadezhda Edelman.

Fedosey and Melanya Ploshchadnyi saved Svetlana Zhirova (nee Ravkin). The Ravkin family - parents, son Vitaliy, and Svetlana - lived in Kherson, Ukraine before the war. When the war broke out, the father was drafted into the Soviet army. In November 1941 Svetlana, Vitaliy and their mother were imprisoned along with other Jewish families. One day in April 1942 one of the guards smuggled Svetlana and her brother out of the prison and handed them over to local residents who were waiting in the streets surrounding the prison. Svetlana found herself with the Ploshchadnyis, and her brother with the Stavenko family. After the war, Svetlana learned that her father had been killed in action in Poland and her mother murdered. She decided to stay with the Ploshchadnyi family and in 1949 the Ploshchadnyis officially adopted Svetlana, who will receive the certificate and medal on behalf of her adoptive parents.

Leonid and Antonina Stavenko saved Vitaliy Ravkin, Svetlana’s brother.

The event is open to the press.