During the darkest years of the Holocaust, the small village of Porechye, south of Minsk, became home to forty Jewish children fleeing the Minsk Ghetto, whom the villagers adopted into their families at enormous risk to their own lives.
Today, in the run-up to International Holocaust Memorial Day, representatives of The Together Plan joined a commemorative delegation at Porechye for a ceremony of speeches, wreath-laying, and a recitation of the Kaddish in remembrance of the countless individuals who (unlike the Porechye children) did not survive. In attendance was the German deputy ambassador, Anja Luther; Chair of the Minsk Ghetto Survivors’ Association Frida Reisman; Maya Krapina, one of the Porechye children; two inhabitants of Porechye and Righteous among the Nations; and Ekaterina Kosmolskaya, director of the district’s Department for Culture.
Braving freezing conditions, the 40-strong delegation gathered at a roadside monument, before continuing to a nearby town, where we were joined by local schoolchildren. ‘I ask that the village of Porechye be known as the village of kindness, for nowhere else have I met such selfless individuals as in Porechye,’ said Ms Reisman. ‘When we arrived here, though just eight years old, we had become like old men and women,’ she added, now aged 83 and ablaze with life. The Together Plan provides support to the Minsk Ghetto Survivors’ Association in organising social events and festival celebrations, as well as through our Aid Together humanitarian aid project.
After the commemoration, the delegation retired to a cafe for refreshments. Today, the traditional Jewish toast ‘L’chaim’ – ‘to life’, today of all days so fragile yet so precious – felt particularly poignant.