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Bones of Jews Killed in Babi Yar, Riga Reburied in Israel

A moving ceremony accompanied the reburial this afternoon of bones brought to Israel from Babi Yar last week by three American students and bones from a common grave of Jews in Rumboli near Riga brought here a few days ago by an elderly Jew. Several hundred people, mainly newcomers from Russia and among them people from Kiev who lost almost their entire families in the Babi Yar massacre in 1941, attended the special funeral officiated by Rabbi Itzhak Yedidia Fraenkel. Wrapped in black, the box carrying the bones was placed in the grave in the Nahiat Itzhal Cemetery near the Treblinka memorial, an impressive chimney-like construction from where an eternal smoke rises to commemorate the millions cremated there by the Nazis. Yehezkeel Polarewitz, chairman of the Assirei Zion Association (those imprisoned in Russia for Zionist activities) said the Kadish for all those who perished at Babi Yar. People were crying, some women had to be helped so they wouldn’t faint. And then it was over. The bones of those killed in Babi Yar and those killed by the Nazis in Riga in 1941 were symbolically brought to eternal rest in the land of Israel.

The bones from Rumboli included a skull with bullet holes in it. Last week, the three students-one Jewish, the other two non-Jewish-on a regular “Intourist” tour, decided to drive from Kiev to Levov. On their way they came to Babi Yar where they noticed a group of workmen clearing the land for a new housing project. Watching the construction proceedings they noticed human bones on the ground. They took some of them and returned to the car. Instead of following their original plan to drive to Levov, the students decided to return to Kiev and return to the Babi Yar site the next day. Going deeper in the woods, they found more bones, including those of children. The students succeeded in smuggling the bones over to Rabbi Fraenkel who, with the consent of the Religious Council, decided on the burial place. Some 100,000 Jews were killed by the Nazis in the woods of Babi Yar during 1941.

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