Yafim

“I worked all my life; I cannot sit at home now. Yad LaKashish lets me continue to work and thus everything is okay. It is a great place.”

When asked what he remembers about the Holocaust the first words out of Yafim’s mouth were, “We escaped.”

Yafim was born in Korosten, Ukraine in 1933. Korosten is a small city near Kiev and every train that traveled to Kiev passed through Korosten.  Just three months before the war his father joined the Russian Army leaving him, his sister, his mother, and his grandmother at home.

Shortly after his father left, Nazi’s began dropping bombs from planes onto the train station. His father wrote the family a letter telling them to leave the city. The family escaped to Malyn, Ukraine where they had close family members. Malyn was also a center for passing trains so once again the Nazi’s began bombing the station. Yafim remembers many deaths and the train station quickly shutting down. After only a few weeks they had to flee again. 
Without access to a car or train, they escaped Malyn by horse. They went into the forest where there were large trees to hide. There they were met by an officer who told them to keep quiet because German’s were wandering in the area.  “It was a time full of fear.”

The family arrived in Kiev and stayed there a couple of weeks before once again fleeing because the war was coming. They fled to a small village in Ukraine where they stayed for a few months before fleeing again. This time, they decided to go as far as they could so they took a train into Russia. On the train they were full of fear. The Nazi’s were attacking trains and they were aware that there could be an explosion at any moment. Eventually, they arrived in a small village near Siberia where Yafim remembers his non Jewish neighbors asking if he had horns.

In the village they received a small apartment and each person was allotted 300 grams of bread a day. “We had practically nothing- no food. There wasn’t even salt and we had no idea what sugar was.”

In 1944, the Russian Army captured Korosten from the Nazi’s and the family was able to return to their home. What was a beautiful house before the war was now in ruin. There was nothing left of Yafim’s childhood home. 

One year later, Yafim’s father suffered an injury in the army and lost part of his arm. After this, he left the army and returned home. Yafim’s father found it very difficult to find work and even when he did it was at minimal pay. Luckily, the family received some money from close relatives and they were able to build themselves a modest home.

Nearly 50 years later, in 1991, Yafim moved to Israel and in 2011 he began working at Yad LaKashish in Metalwork. He is a talented craftsman and usese the skills he learned as an engineer to create beautiful hand cut hamsas.

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