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Francine and Joshua Gerstein visited Consulate General

On October 12, 2023, employees of the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Toronto met with siblings Francine and Joshua Gerstein, whose ancestors had to hide from the Nazis and the German army in what is now Ukraine during World War II. At that time, despite the mortal danger, Čepek's family provided them with help and rescue. In 1943 and 1944, a family of Volhynian Czechs hid them on their farm in the village of Ozeriany.

The families of the rescuers and the rescued later lost contact with each other, and it was only thanks to the great efforts of Francine and Joshua, later also a key involvement with the mayor of Krnov, where the descendants of the Čepek family live, that a direct connection was established in 2020 and everything eventually resulted in the awarding of the title "Righteous Among the Nations" to the Čepeks. Israel recognizes it to people of non-Jewish origin who risked their lives to save Jews during World War II.

This story was at the birth of a new story, the establishment of true friendship and close relationship between the families of the rescued and the rescuers. They all met together in August at the residence of the Israeli Ambassador in Prague during the ceremony of the title "Righteous Among the Nations" awarding and then also on their trip to Israel, where, among other things, they visited the Garden of the Righteous in the Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem, where the names of Bohuslav, Olga and Evženie Čepek have already been mentioned.

We are glad that our colleague Jitka Klímová from GK Toronto stood at the beginning of this story by providing Francine Gerstein with the very first information not only about the Czech Republic, but also about the possible connection between the Čepek family and the town of Krnov.


Three Czechs recognised as Righteous Among Nations | Radio Prague International