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A Family Heritage Tour in Volyn, Ukraine

I can’t thank you enough for the planning of our trip to the Volyn region of Ukraine as a family heritage tour, and for your follow-up of its implementation. The professionals, from Olga, our tour guide, an English speaking academic expert with great knowledge that’s priceless, who stayed with us throughout the entire tour, to our professional driver, Eugene, whose safe driving on the treacherous roads for many hours brought us safely to every destination you planned.
In addition to the regular staff, at each main destination we were joined by additional top-rate professionals who don’t speak English but are academic guides and experts in their areas, especially in dealing with the Jewish issue. Their connections opened doors for us and without them we couldn’t have succeeded in our quest.
Our main quest was to reach the town of Rafalivka, the hometown of my mother of blessed memory, who was the only member of her family who was saved, since she left with my father of blessed memory to Israel before the war. We wanted to say Kaddish for her parents, her brothers, and her sisters who were slaughtered by the Nazis and their local helpers, may their memory be obliterated.
Thanks to the wonderful guide, Natalya, the head of the town of Rafalivka himself opened the town hall for us on a Saturday, when they don’t work, and personally opened the town registry for us so we could see the names of our mother’s family and all the information, including dates of birth, occupations, and property. The head of the town council accompanied us the whole time we were in Rafalivka and also joined us on our visit to Rafalivka’s killing ravine.
We received the same wonderful treatment from the other guides who accompanied us to each killing ravine that we visited, and they went out of their way to help us reach the remote places where Jews who were murdered by the Nazis are buried. On our part, we were privileged to say Kaddish in those places, where sometimes barely half a monument was visible. We were also privileged to learn what had happened to the childhood home of my father, who grew up in a town called Dobe that no longer exists. Thanks to our guide, Natalya, and her extensive connections, we managed to find the town’s location.
Dov, we, the Sidelman family, thank you for helping us carry out the wondrous journey we made, and we were also privileged to fulfill my mother’s wish, and I quote, “My dear children, if you are ever at the killing ravine in Rafalivka, please bring me a bit of dust, so they will always be with me and I will be with them.” We succeeded in fulfilling my mother’s wish, and I thank you.
Thank you on behalf of all of us.
Dr. Sidelman

The Sidelman family | 09/03/2018
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