During the war, Lublin-born Nimrod Ariav stayed with a family in Bełżyce until 1942. On 2 October 1942, the Germans arrested 150 people in a round-up of Jews. Lejb Cygielman, Nimrod Ariav’s father, was among them. They were executed by a firing squad on the same day in a square in front of a synagogue in Bełżyce. At night, a group of Jews, including Nimrod Ariav, carried the dead bodies by horse-drawn carts to a Jewish cemetery near Bełżyce. Late in 1942 Nimrod moved to Warsaw, where he took on a false Aryan identity of Henryk Górski, and later Jerzy Eugeniusz Godlewski. He started attending clandestine classes at the Śniadecki Secondary School. He joined the Home Army and fought in the Warsaw Uprising.
In 1945, he left Poland and made his way through Germany and France to Israel, where he arrived in 1948. He joined the Israeli army, serving in the air force. When he left the army, he stayed in the aviation industry and set up his own business, with branches all over the globe. Starting from late 1980s he has been a regular visitor to Poland, and especially Bełżyce. He made the effort to find, tidy up and fence the old Jewish cemetery, and for years he has come to Bełżyce every autumn together with his family and friends from all over the world. He also supports the local community, for instance by founding equipment for the local school and hospital. Donor of the “Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre” Centre. Odette Ariav was born in France. It was with great sadness that we said goodbye to her in June 2018.
Odette and Nimrod Ariav, together with their family, first donated to the POLIN Museum in late 2014, supporting Polish-Israeli cooperation in the education field.
Bio based on information found on the “Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre” Centre website.