Moses Rubinfeld of Rybotycze near Przemysl
Over the transom comes a wonderful letter (as received) and a link to a very nicely done website about Rybotycze, a small town about 15 miles southwest of Przemysl. The image below is of the town's synagogue, painted from an old black and white photo.
My name is Moysey Rubinfeld,born Rybotycze near Przemysl.From his site:
I'll visited very often Przemysl an help renowate the jewisz cemetery,work together with mr.Gletner. Erect a memorial for all jewish people who were perished by the nazis Al Kidush Haszem. Also I'll absolutly renowated the jewish cemetery in Rybotycze, lift up more thet hundred stones /matzejwes/, makes a a fense around the cemetery and build a memorial. If you will be interested I can send you pictures.
Also you can take alook at my internet site WWW.FORUM-RYBOTYCZE.pl
Moses RubinfeldThis is the text of the letter (in original spelling) sent to the participants of Polish-German-Israeli meeting of young people and the inhabitants of the Rybotycze place, 30 July 2007.
Honorable visitors, friends, compatriots!
I want to apologize very much, please forgive me I am not present here and I cannot meet with you. My age and health condition do not allow me to go on such journeys any more. But I was born here, in Poland, in Rybotycze, my first years, though very hard, I spent in a beautiful and never forgotten town-Cracow and everywhere I go, I always go from Rybotycze. Fragments of gauges from Rybotycze's synagogue saved by Tadeusz Kowalik, donated to Moses Rubinfeld, before emigration from Russia to the USA. They are now exhibited in the museum YAD VA SHEM in Jerusalem and in the Museum of Holocaust in Washington. In 1939 when I was returning from Cracow, because the war began, several of my peers stayed in Rybotycze, it was possible to talk to them about memories of our childhood, it was before 1955 - when I arrived after the war I was only by myself, there was only me. There is a simple poem: "Everything passes slowly, great luck and everything that hurts, everything passes as our destination wants and only one thing stays- the memory " Noemi Szac. I have been traveling throughout Poland for 60 years, by car, by train and it brings only the memory of these times, when by all those means Jews were transported only in one direction -the direction of their extinction. Strolling in Rybotycze, as the only Jew who has survived here, I used to go from one house to another asking just one question :" What happened here with my family, father, brothers, relatives and with all other Jews of this village. There was only one answer: we do not know anything, we did not see anything! For a person with the normal way of thinking answers like that can create a suspicion, whether all the people in such a place have both their hands and their conscience clean. Close your eyes and try to imagine how this small town looked like 60 years ago, where Poles lived next to Jews and Ukrainians - a colourful world where Polish, Yiddish and Ukrainian sounded. After all this, it is hard to imagine that in such place there were neighbours who helped Germans to murder innocent people - children, women, and eldery people. They burgled houses and synagogues, you can still find in their flats some rests of stolen things. Why am I mentioning this? By it, I want to emphasize that, as the president of Poland has said, the neighbours differed: some of them were arsonist and thieves, the others were saving human lives. Also barns differed, some were burnt with alive people inside, in the others people were saved. I have a very big experience when it comes to this issue. I remember when in Cracow on Shoemaker's Street and on the market at Wedel's, there were inscriptions:entrance - Jews and dogs not allowed. But I will also never forget it, when a Polish soldier saved my life in 1939. Escaping on foot from Cracow, at night, I hooked for a train, which was going on east, in the morning I found out that I arrived to Rzeszów, here two young soldierds took me to the Commander of military station, who did not want to hear my explanations and gave an order to shot me down as a German spy. While they were taking me to to the railway station, this soldier came, a former director of an army canteen, which was situated in Cracow, and with which our company had business. He stopped us and ordered to release me. And now, traveling from Cracow to Przemyśl via Rzeszów I am affraid of taking photos here as I do not want to be charged of being an American spy (a joke). I can remember the first time after the war when I went to Rybotycze, everybody was looking at me as at a kind of a hero from a fairy tale, some of them were even touching me with their hands, it was hard to belive that there is a Jew who had survived. Some of them were staring ame with displeasure, they were surely affraid that I came back for my heritage, for the square where my house had beensituated, for my land. But it was, and still is, something that I do not need. I just want to commemorate the memory of our parents, brothers, sisters, all Jews from our town who were innocently murdered and I have not been able to explain so far where they are buried, though, it seems to me that some people know it. Jewish cemetery on Polish land is a house of alive people, not the dead ones. (Szewach Weiss-a former ambassador of Israel in Poland) If we want our tombs to be respected somewhere in the world we have to respect these tombs which are situated on our land too. . /priest Bartminski-Krasiczyn/ I am still related this country, I have a citizen status of Poland, which surprises some of my acquaintances, but I was born here, lived here, I lost here all my relatives, a beautiful girl with whom I falled in love and who was murdered with her family. Sometimes I ask myself: why only I have survived when everybody else was murdered? But even now, after 60 years, I cannot answer this question, even though, during those 60 years I have managed with my wife to build a family - we have two daughters, two grandsons, they are independent and help each other. In 2000, I found a woman whose parents were from Rybotycze, her name was Rachel Salik, after her mother - Gans, it was her cousin with whom I was in love. The monument of her mother, who was killed in Auschwitz, is on the cemetery in Przemyśl. The girl died in April 2007 and was buried in Paris. I have been always looking for somebody, in August I managed to find, thanks to the Internet, my cousin in Paris, the daughter of my mother's brother, who had survived the war and lived in Paris, he died in 1990. Our meeteng, in September last year, was amazing. There met two people, two cousins, who knew about each other nothing. She has got a husband now, two children( a daughter who is married and has a child, and a son who is 28 now). They are all wealth but do not know anything about Rybotycze and they are not even interested in it. Rachel used to say that each of us should leave a trace, a memory of us. This trace will be a renovation of the cemetery in Rybotycze and a documentary film "The Lights of the House" and in which there is shown Rybotycze, a beautiful nature of the Carpaty mountains, fields and forests, streets with storks on pillars and roofs. The river Wiar, flowing from mountains and people living there. I am very pleased that so much has changed in Poland, new generations have grown up, they have a different way of thinking. Nowadays, one can meet young people from Israel, Germany and Poland in Rybotycze. My small town resemblances what it used to be, when there was a friendship between different nations. Let it be a begining of something new, something better. Finally, we understood that we are all children of one God, no matter what are the differences between us. We have to remember that a human being is not born to become a hero, but to become a good person. I get on realy well with my neighbours. The family of Mr. Jan Bakalus, his wife Magda and their children, they are all very good people. At first, it was we who were vistiting them, when our children were small, now they always wait for us. Everything what we managed to do here in Rybotycze and Przemyśl was partly because of Mr. Eugeniusz Bakalus's help. He was my plenipotentiary, spent a lot of time and effort on this project, also his wife helped a lot. Ending my memories, I would like to thank all the people who helped to renovate the cemetery in Rybotycze: the authorities of this province and city and the mayor of Przemyśl. Separate thanks for help to Mr. Z . Kopczakow head forester from Bircza and a forester from Rybotycze Mr. Z. Podgórny. I would also like to thank the organizers of this project and the participants of it.