Geder Avos

In this small town near Zhitomir, over 1500 Jewish bodies are buried in two shallow graves – victims of Hitler’s infamous paramilitary death squads, the Einsatzgruppen, that swept through the region in 1941. Since then, the only monuments that marked their burial site were remnants of the victims’ corpses, clothing, shoes, Torah scrolls, Tefillin, and Siddurim. These remains were discovered by a Chabad emissary, Rabbi Dovid New.

Rabbi’s New’s sister, Lea, undertook responsibility for the site. The regional authorities told Lea that proof had to be brought that this was in fact a sacred Jewish site, and that any monument would have to be funded by private donations. The German branch of the American Jewish Committee duly verified the Nazi involvement in that massacre. Geder Avos and Oholei Tzadikim, in cooperation with the local Jewish community, then constructed appropriate monuments for the mass graves, with engraved inscriptions in Hebrew and in Russian, that record their grim history.

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