Iosef Grayf was born in Kolomyya in 1922 to parents Gershon and Etl. He had six siblings. Iosef was educated in a Polish-language school and in a "kheyder" (traditional religious school for young boys), where he learned to pray and read and write in Yiddish. Just before the war, Grayf worked on the trains before being drafted into the Red Army. He served in the Far East and on the Eastern front during the Great Patriotic War. After the war, Grayf returned to Kolomyya, where he found no family left. Nevertheless, he decided to stay in the town. After the war, Grayf worked in a dental laboratory. In this photograph, Grayf shows the researchers his jacket covered with war medals.

Other Interviews:

Around Kolomyya
Return to Kolomyya

People Stood Outside

Kolomyya, Ukraine

Iosef Grayf recalls an active religious life before World War II in his hometown Kolomyya, which was then a part of Poland. In this clip, Grayf remembers that in the center of town was the Great Synagogue, a layout popular in many other towns in the region, but most people went to the synagogue nearest their own house. He recalls, in particular, the crowds that would gather outside the synagogue, signifying the vibrant religious life of 1930s Poland.