English Texts

A tribute to Aaron and Florence Sokol

Our parents, Aaron and Florence Sokol, were extraordinary people. Many of you know well their individual stories of being hidden in the woods (in the case of our father) and in the barn of a charitable Gentile family (in the case of our mother), until finally, they were free to leave behind the existence that they were forced to endure during the Nazi occupation. Understandably, our parent's approach to life was influenced by their own experiences. The events that they lived through shaped their lives and, in turn, our lives.

Our parents devoted their lives to make sure that their parents (three of whom were fortunate enough to survive the Holocaust), children and grandchildren would never have to face a day without food, shelter, warmth and the ability to provide for their loved ones. They stressed to us the importance of education, hard work, and devotion to family above all else. They were extraordinarily generous with us, as well as others. Over the years, they opened their home to many visitors from countries near and far, housed them, employed them, counseled them, and provided them with a feeling of warmth, belonging and security.

We have never seen two people more singularly dedicated to their respective roles in life then our parents. Our mother unquestionably ruled in all matters relating to the home and to the daily lives of the children – what was for dinner, who was to spend the holidays with us, how we were to get to Hebrew School, when we had to be home from after-school events, and so on. Our father was the master of matters financial – what business, or should we say businesses, he was to invest in and run, what bank was to be chosen to handle our family's businesses, finances, etc. Both of them were very involved in our education and upbringing, and both took part in many aspects of our lives such as making sure that we were respectful of others and had respectable friends; reviewing homework; checking to make sure that we were prepared for tests and shepherding us through more important milestones in our lives.

Their involvement with us did not diminish when we reached adulthood. They remained active participants in our lives after we each married and had children, and provided whatever support was needed through the best and sometimes difficult times. Their grandchildren, Joshua, Jaime, Danielle and Brandon, were a source of endless joy and pride to them, and they were never too busy or too tired to spend time with them. As much as we sorely miss our parents, we often feel that the ones who will miss out most by their untimely passing will be our children, who will never fully experience, with the understanding or maturity that we have, the strength of their grandparents' love. We hope that, with the help of our beloved grandmother, Lea Cynowitz, we will be able to make up for that.

The creation of the monuments in memory of the partisans and Jewish fighters of Wholhyn during the Second World War was extremely important to our parents. They were both ideologically committed to their Judaism, even though once in the United States, they left behind certain of the rituals that they may have practiced when they were youngsters living in Europe.

Our parents - particularly our father – devoted significant time, effort and financial support to this project, which they believed was important for both historical and emotional reasons. We know that they would have been proud to see the project reach its conclusion, were it not for the unfortunate circumstances that prevented them from being here. On behalf of both of our parents, we thank you for seeing this important project to its conclusion, and for allowing us to share with you a bit about the people who helped to make it possible.

Michelle Bratasfolis

Aaron Feldstein