By Marjorie Searl
Yakov Afanasyev was born in Ploskoye, Smolenskiy Region, Russia to Klara Kalmanovna Afanasyeva and Semyon Afanaseyov. HIs father was killed at the Front in the early days of World War II. Yakov, aged 9, his mother, and two other families were taken to a ghetto in Gzhatsk,Russia, now named Gagarin, but managed to escape. Back in their home village, his mother prevailed upon a friendly non-Jewish neighbor, Anastasiya Grigoryeva, to hide them in her potato cellar, but she could only hide one of them, Yakov, and that was the last that he saw his mother. To protect Anastasiya when the region was being searched for Jews and partisans by Germans, he hid in the forest at night. Having no one else in the world, young Yakov lived with Anastasiya until 1947. He worked in construction in Kiev and may have come to Rochester with groups of Soviet Jews who settled here in the 1980s and 1990s, many living in Bobrich Drive apartments. Yakov was survived by his wife, Etya Yakovlevna Afanasyeva.