TORONTO, February 24, 2010Two heroes who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews will be recognized for their outstanding courage at a special ceremony on Wednesday, March 3, 2010, at 6:30 p.m., Kensington Place, 866 Sheppard Ave. W. in Toronto.
Canadian Society for Yad Vashem National Chair Fran Sonshine and Israel’s Consul General in Toronto Amir R. Gissin will confer posthumous “Righteous Among the Nations” honours to Mr. Zbigniew Zakrzewski and Mrs. Uranyi Palne Irma. Their two awe-inspiring stories are a testament to mankind’s ability to bravely stand up for what is right, even under pain of death.
The story of Zbigniew Zakrzewski and Brunia Rubinovitch-Glass
At the end of 1942, Brunia Rubinovitch-Glass, then nine years old, managed to escape from the Warsaw ghetto. For a short time she hid in the home of Stanislaw and Wincentina Wolski, who had befriended Brunia’s parents, but later moved to the home of Wincentina’s sister, Janina Zakrzewski.
Janina’s nephew, Mr. Zakrzewski, helped to secure ‘Aryan’ papers for Brunia, who was then registered in a Catholic school. From that point on, Mr. Zakrzewski looked after Brunia like his own daughter.
About a year after the War ended, Mr. Zakrzewski joined the Polish underground to resist the Communist takeover of Poland. By March 1947, he had been caught by the Soviet Secret Police, convicted and sentenced to death. Since the end of the War, Brunia has been living in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Vancouver resident Marek Zakrzewski, son of Zbigniew Zakrzewski, will fly to Toronto, with the assistance of the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem and Kensington Place, to accept the Award on his late Father’s behalf.
The story of Uranyi Palne Irma and Jakov Fliegman
In 1944, Jakov Fliegman joined his sister in a Budapest orphanage where the two siblings hid from the Nazis; however, Jakov later fled fearing Nazi capture. Jakov lived on the streets and then hid in the basement of a building which was supervised by Mrs. Uranyi. Mrs. Uranyi hid Jakov, then 13 years old, for a month.
Now living in Petah Tikvah, Israel, Jakov Fliegman will fly in especially for the Ceremony to meet the family of his rescuer, Uranyi Palne Irma, with assistance of the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem, Kensington Place, and El Al Israel Airlines. King City, Ontario resident Mrs. Gabriella Starker-Saxe will also attend the ceremony to accept the award on behalf of her late grandmother, Mrs. Uranyi.
“We are so very proud to have the opportunity to honour these true heroes,” said Canadian Society for Yad Vashem National Chair Fran Sonshine. “The Righteous Among the Nations represent sparks of light within the darkness. We can only hope that these lessons of bravery will carry forth to future generations so that they too will understand the profound meaning of selflessly embracing all that is good and right.”
Israel’s Consul General of Israel in Toronto Amir R. Gissin added, “The State of Israel owes much gratitude to the Righteous Among the Nations who have saved persecuted Jews. Many Survivors made a home in Israel and Canada, successfully rebuilding their lives because of their rescuers’ brave actions.”
The title, Righteous Among the Nations, has been bestowed to more than 22,500 people from 44 countries, a few Canadian, by Yad Vashem on behalf of the State of Israel.
Those who are recognized as “Righteous Among the Nations” are presented with a Medal and a Certificate of Honour by Yad Vashem Jerusalem; further, the names of the Righteous Among the Nations are commemorated in the Righteous Among the Nations Garden at Yad Vashem Jerusalem.
An individual can only be considered for the title Righteous Among the Nations when data, based on survivor testimony or other documentation, clearly demonstrates that a gentile risked his or her life, freedom and safety in order to rescue one or several Jews.
“The Canadian Society for Yad Vashem extends its sincerest gratitude to Kensington Place Retirement Residence for its partnership in this Ceremony. Their efforts have made this extraordinary event possible, generously underwriting the ceremony, providing accommodations for our guests and sponsoring flights from Vancouver and Israel,” said Executive Director of the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem Yaron Ashkenazi.
“It is an honour to partner with The Society for this unique initiative. It is inspiring to know that we have been able to play an integral role in facilitating the meeting of rescuers and rescued families for the very first time,” said David Laren, Principal of Kensington Retirement Residence.
Additionally, The Society recognizes the kind support of El Al Israel airlines. “Flying in from Israel, Mr. Fleigman will be reunited with his rescuer’s family for this emotional reunion. We are so pleased to be able to help make this happen,” said Dinah Kutner, El Al Canada’s General Manager.
“This event illustrates that truly selfless acts must not go unnoticed. Let us remember the past and shape a brighter future marked by greater tolerance, compassion and understanding for all of mankind,” added Fran Sonshine.

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