(JTA) – The deputy speaker of the Knesset, Hilik Bar, attended a ceremony in a Polish town that renamed its main square for his great-grandfather, who was murdered in the Holocaust.
The renaming ceremony last week in Skulsk, 120 miles west of Warsaw, was in memory of Yitzhak Kotowski, a head of the local Jewish community who was murdered in the Majdanek concentration camp in 1942, the Israeli daily Maariv reported Wednesday.
The main square of Skulsk was renamed in the memory of Bar’s great-grandfather to “the Kotowski Family Square” in a ceremony attended by Bar, a member of Israel’s Labor party, and 17 members of his family.
Bar, the head of the Israel-Poland Friendship parliamentary caucus, was received at a municipal building last year on land that he said his family had owned; it was built over their home, which had been destroyed.
The ceremony took place ahead of Yom HaShoah, the Jewish day of mourning for the victims of the Holocaust, which this year fell on May 5.
Before Kotowski, who is Bar’s maternal great-grandfather, was sent to Majdanek, his wife, Gitel, was killed with a group of Jews in a nearby forest by Nazi soldiers, who wiped out the local Jewish community of several hundred.
Bar said local authorities at first resisted his efforts to commemorate the Holocaust in town, but came around with help from Polish lawmakers and Jonny Daniels, founder of the From the Depths commemoration organization.
Bar said the ceremony on April 28 was a moving experience, in which several of his family members cried and sang Israel’s national anthem, Hatikvah.