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'I Consider It an Honor to Save Jews'

Konon and Anna Kalyuta (Photo: Yad Vashem)

Throughout World War II, many Christians came to the aid of their Jewish neighbors, saving lives - often at the risk of their own - during the Nazis' attempts at annihilating the Jewish people. Yad Vashem (Israel's official Holocaust memorial) brings us the inspiring story of Baptists in Ukraine who felt honored to be able to act so selflessly:

In early September 1942, a 20-year-old Fanya Rozenfeld from Rafałówka arrived at the home of Filip and Teklya Konyukh, simple farmers living in the village of Mulczyce the county of Sarny. Fanya was the sole survivor of her family who had been killed during the liquidation of the ghetto in Rafałówka on August 29, 1942. Fanya had managed to escaped and had since been wandering in the forests, going from time to time to a village to get some food.

The Konyukhs, like most villagers in the area, were Baptists. At first they permitted Fanya to spend the night at their home. The following morning, Rozenfeld told her hosts that she had dreamt at night that she had been reading out verses from the Book of Isaiah in front of a congregation. When Konyukh heard this, he immediately took Rozenfeld to the Batpists’ weekly gathering in preacher Konon Kaluta’s home in the village of Młynek. Kaluta was one of the regional Baptist leaders and he was a known commentator of the Bible. Fanya’s knowledge of the Bible impressed the congregation deeply, and motivated them to help save her. After the meeting, Rozenfeld returned to the Konyukhs’ home, where she was treated as a family member. She helped out with the housework and also offered commentaries on verses from the Old Testament. Consequently, the Baptists named her “Saint Feodosiya.”

The Konyukhs also afforded shelter to two other Jews, Sender Appelboim and his father Shlomo, who had escaped from the ghetto in Wlodzimierzec. Konyukh told them: “God sent you to me and I consider it an honor to save Jews.” After a few months, in late 1942, the search for Jews and partisans in the area intensified, and the three Jews were obliged to leave the Konyukhs’ home. Appelboim and his father turned to Mefodiy Logatskiy, whom they knew before the war, and Fanya Rozenfeld moved to Kaluta’s home in the village of Młynek. Kaluta lived with his second wife, Anna, their four children and two daughters from Konon’s previous marriage, Anna and Mariya. Rozenfeld stayed with the Kalutas for about a year. Here too, the Bible and the Baptists faith in the role of the Jewish people played an important role, and Kaluta would preach in his sermons about the duty to help save Jewish lives...

Tags: Advocates and Allies

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