After 81 years: Discovered his Brother was Murdered in the Holocaust and flew to Russia to say Kaddish

A chilling story ended this week in Petersburg: a 91-year-old Jew who, after 81 years of searching, just discovered the burial place of his brother who perished in the Holocaust, traveled with the help of the Jewish community and Chabad to his grave in Russia to say Kaddish for the rising of his soul.

“On the thirtieth day of my dear father’s passing,” relates Rabbi Chaim Shaul Brook, director of the Jewish community of Petersburg, Russia, “I received a phone call from a young man: “Rabbi Brook, this is Yosef Lapko speaking from Arizona. I’m so glad I caught you, you have to hear this story, and I need your help.”

“Six months ago,” he continued,  “I visited the Yad Vashem Museum together with my grandfather, who is now 91 years old. There, in the hall called ‘Yad for the Child,’ where every human-being shudders, a hall where you feel a chilling feeling as soon as you enter it, where candles are lit and in the background, the names of those who perished in the Holocaust are called out… When we entered the hall, the voice called the name ‘Zalman Zalotin, 17 years old, Russia’. A moment later my grandfather passed out and fell to the ground.

When he revived and got up again, he explained his excitement and said: “At that moment, I realized that my older brother, the only one we didn’t know what happened to him since we separated in 1941, was killed at the age of 17.

Many years and countless attempts to obtain information about his brother’s fate, which began immediately after the war’s end, were met with a dry response stating that his name does not appear among the list of the dead and wounded.

After the incident, my cousin and I located documents proving that my grandfather’s brother was buried in a military mass grave about one hundred and fifty kilometers from Petersburg. I really want to come with my grandfather to say Kaddish after 81 years of separation. Please help us.”

“Last Monday morning,” Rabbi Chaim Shaul Brook concludes, “Yosef and his grandfather Reuven landed in Russia and the next day went up with a Minyan to the grave of his brother who perished in the Holocaust and said Kaddish for the rising of his soul.”

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