Message to JewishGen Email Exchange Group

Date: Wed, 03 May 2000
From: Ada Holtzman
Subject: Searching: REFITKIES / RAFITKES...
 The Search of Jakob Rafitkes (Refitkies), Bialystok, Poland - the Only Survivor

Yom HaShoa, 12 L'Omer, Nisan 27, 5760, May 2, 2000

This message is sent for a friend who has no internet access: Jakob RAFITKES (REFITKIES), born in 1933 at Bialystok, Poland. He now lives in a prosperous Kibbutz in Israel.

 His name, RAFITKES or REFITKIES is very unique. It was derived, as explained to him by a Jew in Poland whom he met after the war, from the diminutive of the name "Rivka", a way of naming a family where the mother was dominant, usually a widow, Jewish "Eshet Khail" who supported a whole family. Jakob has never verified this theory about his family name.

During the War, he was sent to a summer camp in Russia, on 3 June 1941. On 22 June started the war with Russia and he was captured together with other 200 children in Russia and thus was saved.

The only survivor of a whole family of Bnai Israel...

He recalls that after the war, Polish and Russian children returned home to find their parents and family, but he and the Jewish children found no one... The orphan refugee's story was told by Sarah Neshamit Shner, in her book: "Poema Pedagogic Akheret" (a Different Pedagogic Poema).

Known facts, all coming from one single birth certificate of his brother, the only document he has of his family, sent to him recently by the courtesy of a researcher from Bialystok. Otherwise, nothing, not even one photograph...
It is very hard to live all your life WITHOUT parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and not even a single cousin, not even 2nd cousin... not even a singe 3rd cousin... NOBODY in the world, except the new family he raised in Israel, in a Kibbutz. It is a painful quest... not like the regular genealogical one, where you just search for another entry in your family tree software...


  Mother: Fruma Refitkies nee' Kaplan born ca 1893, from Bialystok. We don't know who were her parents.

  Father: Szejel Refitkies born ca 1892, a tailor from Bialystok.

 5 Brothers and sisters:

Rifka, b. 1925
Chaia, b. 1927
Nachman, born 6/4/1929
Bluma 1931
Jakob 1933 or 30.7.1934

 There was another child with them: Mosze Szwarc, his half brother, born to Fruma from a previous marriage. Moshe's biological father left to America in the early years of the 20s. We can sssume he was born between 1914 till 1920.

 From "Dapei Ed" recently (September 2000) found in the computerized database of Yad Vashem's Hall Of Names, and conversations with the Bialystok Society Chairman in Israel, we could assume that the father of Mosze Szwarc was (Yudel) Yehuda Swarc who immigrated to Canada and not America, before the Holocaust. Yehuda was one brother of 6 others, who all named their first born son by the name Mosze. All the five brothers and their spouses and their children perished in the Holocaust. We are searching Yehuda's descendants who might keep old photos and may be Fruma's picture.

 The family lived in Zalezna (phonetically spelt) street number 11 (?) , Bialystok.

Last year he was contacted by a tourist from Australia , who knew the family and described to Jakob his parents and siblings and their life before the destruction.

In the excitement of the conversation, Jakob didn't ask him for his details and forgot to ask about his grandparents, as he doesn't remember neither one, nor even their names

The inquiry was registered in JewishGen' Holocaust Global Registry at:

Needless to say, any piece of information will be highly appreciated.


Ada Holtzman


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