May 1. Kolomiya turns out to be a pretty and lively town. We decide to stay a day longer than we originally planned, and to take a trip from here to southern Galicia. Yabloniv, Kosiv and Kuty are our destinations.
We stroll through Kolomiya. In a side street we see a functioning synagogue – after so many ruins that we have seen in recent days, a good experience. We take a look on the nearby market. In a few days is Easter and the Hutsul farmers offer beautiful hand-painted eggs for sale. We are amazed at the variety of patterns and I can not resist to buy some eggs. Then we make our way south.
We know about the cemetery in Yabloniv only that there should be very old grave stones. The weather is nice today. The nature has changed in the days of our trip. Upon our arrival, a first green was to be seen, now the trees are in full bloom, a colorful carpet of flowers covers the fields. Everywhere in the villages we see nesting storks. The road winds towards Carpathians.
We have no difficulty in finding the cemetery in Yabloniv. As so often it is situated on a hill. In a way cemeteries that we visited in the last few days were similar, but all places have their own character and style. The grave stones in Yabloniv are unusual. Some have baroque ornaments, others geometric decorations. We look around, look out over the blooming country.
We continue south to Kosiv, once the residence of a major rabbinical dynasty. I have been here already last October. Since then, nothing has changed. The local cemetery is still a jungle.
In a hotel at the market, we take a meal, then walk around a bit. The place is not particularly impressive. There are few old buildings, apparently the town was badly damaged in the war.
Kuty is the last stop of our trip. The place is just a few kilometers from Kosiv. Would one drive across the nearby bridge, you would be back in Bukovina. In the center of Kuty I ask a young man about the way to the Jewish cemetery. He nods and gives us to understand that we should follow him. He would show us the way. Soon we realize that this help was needed. Alone we would have never found the way. We are grateful for this assistance.
The cemetery of Kuty proves to be unexpectedly large. Everywhere you can see that there were ongoing works recently. Big piles of branches and tree trunks are lying around everywhere, many grave stones were cleaned. In one area of the cemetery, the stones are standing very tight. At its center we see two grave stones that were freshly coloured white. Likely here rest important rabbis with their nearest followers.
This was a long day with lots of impressions. We go over bumpy country roads back to Kolomiya and look forward to a cold beer and a warm meal. On the way back, we need to talk about the places we saw. Nothing lets you untouched there.
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Beautifully written and photographed.
Kuty is the birthplace of the Baal Shem Tov. Just over that nearby bridge, back in Bukovina, is Vishnitzia, one of my home towns.
What a remarkable trip!