November 13, 2008

The realization of a dream

The Slawinski’s and the Maiman’s embraced in a brotherly hug

Esfira Maiman – a young-spirited 94 years old lady has realized a life-long dream. This week, she embraced Roman Slawinski, the nephew of Stanislawa Slawinska, the Polish Catholic woman who, more than sixty years ago gave shelter to her and to other persecuted Jews at her own home in Grodzisk Mazowiecki.

November 10th., 2008 was a very special day for Esfira Maiman.

On that day, Roman Slawinski, his son Jacek and his grandson Milosz, landed in Israel. Last time Esfira and Roman saw each other was more than six decades ago, at the wake of WWII.

From the airport, the Slawinski’s were rushed to Esfira’s home, where they held an extremely moving encounter.

The next day, on November 11th., 2008, Yad Vashem bestowed the posthumous title of Righteous among Nation to Stanislawa Slawinska. Roman received the distinction on behalf of his late aunt.

In his speech, Roman underscored his gratitude toward the IRWF for having conveyed the case to Yad Vashem and thus greatly contributed to his aunt’s recognition.

Danny Rainer – Head of the Jerusalem office of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation – congratulated Yad Vashem for having bestowed the well-merited distinction to Stanislawa and pointed-out that ”while we regret that the hero is not here, at least we are lucky that three generations of both families, the Slawinski’s and the Maiman’s, are here today, embraced in a brotherly hug”. He also thanked his colleagues and volunteers at the IRWF, for their devotion and dedication to this case and stressed that ”Esfira has taught us a great lesson: gratitude has no expiry date”.

On November 13th., 2008, the IRWF, together with the Polish Embassy in Israel, held a moving ceremony at the private residence of HE, Ambassador Agnieszka Magdziak – Miszewska. Among the attendants were the Ambassador of Turkey in Israel, H.E. – Mr. Namik Tan, and his wife, H.E. – the Ambassador of Sweden in Israel – Ms. Borsiin Bonnier, H.E., the Charge d’Affairs of the Peruvian Embassy in Israel, Dr. Voto Bernales, Ambassador Hertzel Inbar, members of the Maiman family and friends, as well as members and friends of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.

Ambassador Miszewska greeted the guests and congratulated the IRWF for the initiative. She also read a warm support letter especially sent for the occasion by the Foreign Minister of Poland, HE Mr. Radoslav Sikorski.

On behalf of the Foundation, Mr. Rainer thanked Ambassador Miszewska and all the guests. He also thanked all those who could not attend the ceremony but sent warm messages of support and endorsement, such as the legendary leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Dr. Marek Edelman and Mr. Simcha (Kazik) Rotem.

Mr. Rainer also highlighted the paramount contribution made by HE., Ms. Izabela Matusz, First Secretary at the Embassy of Poland in Buenos Aires, and by Ms. Agnieszka Krawczykowska, an official from the Municipality of Grodzisk Mazowiecki, who moved by the humanitarian quest, helped the Foundation in this case.

Mr. Rainer took the opportunity to thank Esfira Maiman for serving as a source of inspiration for the Foundation’s activities and announced the establishment of the Esfira Maiman Women Rescuers Institute, which will be devoted to the research and documentation of the feats of women rescuers during the Holocaust.

Finally, two medals were granted to the Slawinski’s. The Raoul Wallenberg Women Rescuers Medal was co-presented to Roman Slawinski by Ambassador Magdziak – Miszewska and by Dr. Yoav Tenembaum, a Member of the Executive Board of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.

Another distinction, the Esfira Maiman Women Rescuers Medal was co-presented to Milosz Slawinski by Mr. Yossi Maiman and his sister Michele

As far as Esfira Maiman is concerned, she has closed the most important chapter of her life. Her dreams have come true.

For the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, this is only the beginning. Many more Rescuers, women and men, are awaiting their turn to be discovered. This is a debt we all have not only towards them, but above all, to the younger generations.

With the support of the Werthein Family, Argentina