Tomb of courageous Polish non-Jew is rededicated

SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – The tombstone of a Polish woman who saved a Jewish woman by hiding her in the roof of her barn for two years during the Holocaust was rededicated with a Talmudic inscription.

Maria Jalowiec, who died in 1979, hid her neighbor Regina (Rivka) Wallach, who had managed to jump off a wagon after being rounded up by the Nazis, from 1942 to 1944.

Rivka’s son, Irving Wallach, who lives in Sydney, and her daughter, Sabina, of California, were present at the ceremony Sunday in Brzostek, Poland. They sponsored the renovation of the tomb after discovering it by chance last year.

Other family members traveled from Israel, Germany, Poland and the Netherlands to witness the event, which also marked the 70th anniversary of the roundup by the Nazis of the Jews of Brzostek. Most were shot in a mass grave.

A new memorial to the Jews of Brzostek and nearby villages who were shot by the Nazis also opened in the presence of the chief rabbi of Poland and Australia’s ambassador to Poland.

Irving Wallach said of the event, “It marks the righteousness and courage in saving life, that of a Jewish neighbor. Maria Jalowiec’s courage and her decision to save my mother’s life came at the risk of possibly sacrificing her family’s and her own life. Such people deserve to have their names and deeds shouted from the rooftops.”

Wallach and his sister included on Jalowiec’s tombstone the Talmudic dictum “Whoever saves one life, it as if he saved the whole world.”

He said he hoped to have Jalowiec included as a Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.

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