A Founder of Our Gorodok Landsmanshaftn,
The Gorodok Relief Association

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Rafael Miller*
*born Millerkowski

In Russia, Rafael Miller did his three-year stint in the Russian armed forces.  When the time came for him to be discharged, he was told that he would have to serve four more years.  The next day he made plans to go to America.

"One day when I was telling him about my serving in the Reserve," said Rafael's grandson, David Miller, "he began telling me about how he deserted from the Russian Army."  Rafael had not been a soldier, for Jews were not permitted in that role.   Rafael served in the army as a tailor.  When his required time was over, he was not interested in another tour, and so he just left the country altogether. 

Here in America, Rafael, with others, set about founding the Horodoker Relief Association.  (Gorodok became Horodok on this side of the Atlantic.)  The first goal of the founders was to bring to America their families and other townspeople.

In our story, "Coming to America," the chapter entitled "Trying for a Better Life," describes the living conditions and abuse endured by the family of my grandfather's youngest sister, the last known in our family to migrate to America.

Rafael's name, along with that of the other founders of the Horodoker Relief Association, is inscribed on the gates to the Horodoker's section of the Beth El Cemetery in Paramus, New Jersey. 

"I would be interested to know if anyone was left in Russia,"  Rafael's grandson, David, said recently.   Throughout our family, great efforts were made to bring to safety other family members.  Perhaps one day, details will surface on the success of Rafael and his associates in that regard. 

The son-in-law of Toby's first cousin, Ethel, managed to arrange for no less than 18 members of his family to slip out of Tarnow, Austria, barely minutes ahead of the Gestapo.   Ethel's oldest daughter, Rose, had not been enthusiastic about marrying this man, Max Sollender.  However, throughout his life, he proved to be one of the most valued members of our extended family.

The jobs he provided for eleven young men during the depression enabled them to finish their education and start families.  Max Sollender is the subject of a feature in our web page, "A Very Important Person."  In time, Rafael Millerkowski might be another. 

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