Ceremony honouring Polish Righteous at the Yad Vashem Institute

Klara Jackl / English translation: Andrew Rajcher, 18th October 2018
“They are the embodiment of human kindness, fearlessness and selflessness”, said Mitch Goldhar about the Sajkowski family. Goldhar is the son of Sala Armal-Goldhar, whom the Sajkowski family rescued during World War II. The descendants of the rescuers, the rescued and her family met together on 11th October 2018 at the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem for a ceremony to posthumously honour these Poles with the title of Righteous Among the Nations.

The ceremony began with paying tribute to victims of the Holocaust in the Yad Vashem Memorial Hall. Institute Director, Avner Shalev, then presented the story of the rescue of Sala Armal-Goldhar, by the Sajowski family, in Czortków near Stryj (today in Ukraine). In telling the story, Avner Shalev stressed the enormous risk involved in the hiding of a Jewish child and the accompanying fear of being denounced.

Sala was five-years-old when the War broke out. In order to save the child, her parents gave her over to Aniela Dembińska, who placed the little girl in the farm of her mother and stepfather - Helena and Mikołaj Sajowski. Although of an advanced age, they took care of Sala whom, to their neighbours, they  presented as their granddauighter. After the War, Sala managed to contact family in Toronto, to whom she left in 1948.

Avner Shalev presented the Righteous Among the Nations medal and certificate to their granddaughter, Barbara Rybczyńska.

I am proud of the award presented to my mother, grandmother and grandfather, and the fact that, in such terrible times of war, they displayed courage and sensitivity to the misfortune of others. Every effort must be made that children should never again lose their parents, or parents their children – Barbara Rybczyńska, during the ceremony.

In conclusion, the survivor, together with the granddaughter of those honoured, unveiled a plaque in the Garden of the Righteous in the name of Mikołaj and Helena Sajowski and their daughter Aniela Dembińska.

The ceremony was attended by the children and grandchildren of the rescuers and the rescued, who had come from Poland and Canada. Among the guests were family and friends, as well as the Canadian and Polish Ambassadors to Israel.

Today, it is most important to acknowledge and honour the highest acts of goodwill and human decency which constitute an antidote to racism – Mitch Goldhar.

Information regarding the procedures in awarding, by the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem, the highest civic honour of the State of Israel, can be found on our website: Kryteria Yad Vashem.